Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)

Discussions about Surrey-owned land in Langley should be behind closed doors, councillors say

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and former Surrey mayor Bob Bose say

Surrey council has been criticized for doing too much business behind closed doors. But at the last council meeting Monday, that table was turned.

Councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial questioned why business concerning a Surrey-owned gravel pit in the Township of Langley was discussed in an open Investment and Innovation Impact Committee meeting on March 12 rather than in-camera.

Scott Neuman, general manager of engineering, did a power-point presentation on a 14.2 hectare (35 acre) property Surrey owns at 20575-0 Avenue that city bought in 1960 for $30,000 with the intent of extracting gravel. In 2016, he noted, Surrey approached Langley about extracting the gravel and in 2019 the township inquired about buying the heavily forested property from Surrey for a park.

The meeting heard there are three options under consideration: Extracting one million tonnes of gravel for a potential net revenue of $5 million to $12 million, subdividing the land into seven lots – subject to township approval – for a net $10 million to $12 million or up to 14 lots for a net $12 million to $15 million, or do a land exchange or sell it to the township at the current market value of $8.5 million.

The Investment and Innovation Impact Committee is chaired by Mayor Doug McCallum, Councillors Laurie Guerra, Allison Patton and Mandeep Nagra are members.

READ ALSO: Safe Surrey Coalition majority denies temporary tax relief for struggling residents

READ ALSO ZYTARUK: Surrey’s valuable farmland – just like India’s – needs protecting

Hundial asked why a discussion related to selling city-owned land was done in a public session. “To me, I don’t find that’s the right venue for that, that’s something that perhaps should be brought into closed with all of council on that and I’m wondering why staff would bring it just to a committee,” he said.

McCallum replied it came before the committee it did because it looks at “all forms of increased new revenue.

“That the mandate, or one of the mandates of this committee, to look at new revenue sources. That particular property was bought for gravel extraction. It does have a lot of gravel on it, and so we were asking staff the potential of getting revenue from the gravel that was on that site,” the mayor said.

Locke asked staff if discussions involving the sale of any city property is “rightfully to be held in closed council meetings” and added that “disclosing dollar figures in open minutes seems rather extraordinary to me.”

City manager Vincent Lalonde replied that these discussions at this committee were exploratory in nature. “Any kind of decision on selling city assets or developing city assets such as exploiting the gravel pit would come before council either in closed or open, depending on the nature of the report,” he said.

Former Surrey mayor Bob Bose expressed concern.

“What this committee has done, in an open session, is discuss the sale of city property in Langley and this is a property matter,” Bose said. “The problem is the committee doesn’t have the executive authority to direct staff on something like this, and it’s bypassed council and it’s dealt with in public.

“We’re talking about a fair chunk of money,” Bose said. “The principle issue here is that nobody on that committee, including certainly the mayor and the others of course wouldn’t know any better, but what’s shocking is the administration allowed this issue to be done by a committee in an open session that deals with the sale of and disposal of city property and in fact suggests the value of it.

“This is highly prejudicial to the interests of the city,” Bose maintains.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

City of SurreyLangley Township

Just Posted

A mixed-use development with 69 market rental units and 10 commercial units is proposed for the 2300-block of King George Boulevard. (Thinkspace rendering)
Pair of South Surrey apartment proposals move forward

Council gives third reading to rezoning applications for market-rental and residential projects

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

Converter thefts have increased dramatically as the price of platinum has skyrocketed. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press photo)
Catalytic converter thefts continue to plague Delta

Police say the thefts are on the rise across the city, with seven incidents on Thursday, June 17

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
‘Stay-at-home mom’ works to raise $25K to help Options build housing in Surrey

Tammy Bourelle boosts ‘Women of Options’ fundraising campaign, which ends June 30

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read