Linda Hepner

Linda Hepner

Election 2014: Linda Hepner is Surrey First’s choice for mayor

City of Surrey: Former bureaucrat and current councillor will be running for the centre chair in this November's civic election.

Linda Hepner sits in a sofa chair in the living room of her comfortable South Surrey home and tells The Leader in an exclusive interview what many have suspected for some time.

She will announce publicly today that she’s Surrey First’s choice as a mayor heading into this November’s civic election.

She says she has the full support of her team to lead them into the next election.

The only other contender for the job within the ranks of Surrey First was Coun. Bruce Hayne, who stepped aside and said he was backing Hepner.

Dressed in a black pantsuit, she cups her mug of coffee, and wears an easy smile.

She says she’s ready for the battle for the mayor’s chair.

(Coun. Barinder Rasode has told The Leader she will be running for mayor as well).

Describing herself as an “experienced senior,” the Fredericton-born woman arrived in Surrey in 1985, when she promptly started work with the city.

Beginning as executive assistant to city manager Mike Jones, Hepner rose through the ranks and became manager of economic development, film and special events.

In 2005, she took a leave of absence to run for city council and won a seat, which she’s kept.

She says as mayor, she would bring “experience, steadfastness, team building and courage” to the table.

“It takes a lot of courage to follow in the footsteps of Dianne Watts,” Hepner says of the popular mayor who recently said she wouldn’t run for the centre chair this fall.

Hepner says that under Watts’ leadership, the city has taken some “enormous strides.

But there’s more that can be done, Hepner says.

She wants to focus on economic development and continue working to establish one job per Surrey resident.

She wants to turn the King George Boulevard, between 80 and 64 Avenues, into a “Creative Corridor,” inviting all types of performing arts, design businesses and fine arts shops.

“That’s my vision, and that’s what I would be pushing to do.

She also believes Campbell Heights, a large business district near 192 Street and 24 Avenue, is undersold.

She wants to see more agri-food industry there as well as aerospace firms.

Hepner was economic development manager for the city when Campbell Heights came to fruition. She describes it as the best land to build on this side of Burlington, Ontario.

More can, and will, be done on that vast property, she vows.

Crime reduction is also a key challenge that Hepner wants to address.

But she says it’s “myopic and simplistic” to just throw more police at the problem.

Innovative solutions include getting more civilians to do the desk work, so gun-carrying police can be out on the road where they belong.

“Get the police officers doing the real police work,” Hepner says.

She also wants to do more about the root causes of crime.

Some of the things she’s considering is regulating all drug and alcohol recovery homes so they all meet an acceptable standard.

More also needs to be done for at-risk youth, she says.

She also wants to “reinvigorate” the Block Watch program, which is falling away in communities such as Newton.

Newton itself needs some attention she says, and under her watch, the community will get it.

She wants to relocate the Newton ice arena, and create a centre for excellence on ice elsewhere in the community.

Where else, she asks, do you see an ice rink in the centre of the community?

In its place, she wants to work with the private sector to get a mixture of commercial and residential at the Newton site.

She thinks a hotel and trade and convention centre should be located at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

And Hepner also wants to increase the pressure on TransLink to bring this city more effective public transit.

Like Watts, Hepner wants to see at-grade rail in the city as soon as possible.

Hepner also noted TransLink has been operating under flawed data when they determine population density (usually used to justify levels of service).

TransLink has been determining Surrey’s density by factoring in the entire land mass, including the 33 per cent that’s Agricultural Land Reserve. As it’s set aside for important food harvest, Hepner says it shouldn’t be used in the formula.

When the ALR is excluded, Surrey has the same population density as Burnaby, Hepner says.

She informed the transportation authority of that two years ago, and says things are changing because of it.

Hepner says there are also fun things the city could be doing.

With an effort to get more people to the waterfront on the Fraser River, Hepner wants to see a ferris wheel on the beach by the Pattullo Bridge.

“Why can’t I have a ferris wheel there?” Hepner asks. “Why can’t I have something that brings kids to the waterfront?”

She would also like to see fireworks, or anything that will attracts families to Brownsville Bar.

“I’d like to do something that activates the waterfront.

She also wants to make use of Surrey Lake, a body of water created more than a decade ago at 75 Avenue and 152 Street.

“Either bring in some sand, make it a beach, let somebody utilize it, or don’t call it Surrey Lake,” Hepner says. “Because it certainly isn’t.

She says it’s “begging for attention,” and it either gets it, or the name should come off.

Overall, she says she’s extremely pleased with the economic environment that’s been created over the last decade in this city.

“The enormity of what we have achieved and the fact I believe a whole lot of that success is attached to the governance structure that we’ve created,” Hepner says.

“I’m tremendously proud of that. I don’t think that’s happened anywhere else in the country.

Knowing Rasode has begun garnering support, Hepner says the civic campaign has already started.

The election will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eternity Medical Equipment’s ECAN95 masks have received Health Canada approval and CSA certification. (Eternity Medical Equipment photo)
South Surrey N-95 equivalent manufacturer launches mask recycling program

Eternity Medical Equipment partners with Ontario-based LifeCycle Revive

Surrey Fire Service at a garage fire in the 14400-block of 82A Ave on March 22, 2021. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
‘Perfect storm’ of variants, increasing COVID cases are concerning for Surrey fire chief

Between police and fire, Larry Thomas said there are 8 confirmed cases, 18 others isolating

Emergency crews on scene after a small plane crashed in a grassy area on the northeast side of Boundary Bay Airport Saturday morning (April 10). A freelancer said the plane caught fire and one person was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Small plane crashes at Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport

Plane appears to have suffered ‘significant’ damage, says freelancer

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

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

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

FILE - An arena worker removes the net from the ice after the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames NHL hockey game was postponed due to a positive COVID-19 test result, in Vancouver, British Columbia, in this Wednesday, March 31, 2021, file photo. As vaccinations ramp up past a pace of 3 million a day in the U.S, the NHL is in a tougher spot than the other three major North American professional sports leagues because seven of 31 teams are based on Canada. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Vancouver Canucks scheduled to practice Sunday, resume games April 16 after COVID outbreak

Canucks outbreak delayed the team’s season by eight games

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Most Read