LETTERS: Surrey history repeats itself
The direction and tone of any city is established by its civic leaders.
In Surrey, they are the Surrey First electors group under Mayor Dianne Watts – invented to cull together a group of disgruntled councillors led by deposed mayor Doug McCallum and his Surrey Electors Team (SET).
What happened next was the reinvention of SET with all its existing members intact. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
In the run up to 2014 elections, Surrey First should be celebrating its accomplishments and boasting its vision for the future. The reality is that First is deeply mired in controversy – all of it self-inflicted.
The new ‘direction and tone’ for Surrey was never achieved. In fact, the issues under SET dating back to pre-2005 remain. First has continued the tradition of rampant development cleverly disguised as the Surrey City Development Corporation. The development sector has thrived under a regime that is systematically stacked against any public or community opposition.
Crime, addiction and homelessness remain today just as before, but with a huge difference. Today, all areas, including South Surrey, are dealing with an influx never before experienced. What has almost always been a Whalley/Newton concern is now widespread and common throughout our city.
As mayor, McCallum’s heavy hand directed then-councillor Watts to sanitize the bad news coming out of Surrey – in effect, telling Watts to tell the RCMP what they could and could not say or report on. Watts correctly refused, accusing McCallum of being a bully among other things. Watts handily went on to become mayor.
Today, little has changed and is in fact worse.
The existing police committee stopped keeping minutes and disappeared from public oversight. Rookie Councillor Barinder Rasode was held out to be responsible, despite her adoption of Surrey First, its methods and direction from the mayor. Watts announced she would be in charge and Rasode was out.
Imagine, getting fired for doing what you were told to do?
What is most disturbing are longtime sitting councillors who remain mute, in lockstep with the missives of the mayors. Sadly, history will record their character flaws and deny them credit for the many good contributions made.
It is true that when you find a trickle, a river runs not far away. The issues are many and the methods sadly, are the same as before.
Rebranding Surrey from the ‘City of Parks’ to the ‘Future Lives Here’ is but a chilling reminder of how little has changed.
Let’s hope there is a champion in their midst who will walk the talk and bring Surrey back from the edge.
Mike Proskow, Surrey