Surrey City Hall Council Chambers (Now-Leader file photo)

Surrey City Hall Council Chambers (Now-Leader file photo)

Higher development fees in budget would ‘make Surrey less affordable’: Annis

Councillor slams draft budget for development cost increases that would be ‘passed right along to buyers’

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis has already slammed the city’s draft budget for its hiring freeze on police officers and firefighters, and she’s now taking aim at development fee increases that she says would “make Surrey less affordable for families.”

“Community amenity charges will go up as much as $4,000 per unit and bonus density charges will climb by as much as $40 per square foot,” Annis said, in a release, of details laid out in the proposed financial plan.

“The real kicker is that these increases, which are going to be passed right along to buyers, have nothing to do with good urban planning or increased community amenities. Instead, they are all about financing the mayor’s proposed new police department. Consequently, these added costs are going to make Surrey less affordable for families.”

Annis says development cost increases would simply get added on to the price of a home.

“In addition, Surrey taxpayers can forget about city infrastructure, new ice rinks or pools, or adding more police or firefighters. Absolutely everything in this draft budget is about making it possible to pay for the mayor’s proposed police department, at tremendous cost to everything else in our city.”

READ MORE: New Surrey Police force ‘swallowing up’ city’s funds, Annis says

She categorized the overall approach in the budget as “reckless” and said the proposed Surrey Police Department has “become this giant black hole and we’re shoveling more and more money into it every single week.”

“At the same time, the numbers around the transition aren’t to be believed because no one at city hall can speak with any authority about their validity.”

Last week, Councillor Mandeep Nagra defended the draft budget.

“It’s safety we’re buying, and you know people are ready to pay for the safety. They want Surrey to be the safe place, and that’s what we’re doing.”

McCallum is not expected to comment on the draft budget until after the public hearing, City of Surrey communications manager Oliver Lum said last week. The Now-Leader has requested comment again this week.

The finance committee will decide if the draft budget will go to regular council for approval.

The draft financial capital plan budgets $45.2 million for Surrey’s new police department transition. The plan allocates $84.4 million in “additional” operating costs on top of the expected one-time transition costs. With contingencies added, that equates to $129.6 million over the five-year period.

READ ALSO: Disappointment, frustration after Surrey council votes to approve budget Dec. 17, 2018

For the second year in a row, there are no new police officers on the city’s books for 2020.

And no new firefighters are to be hired next year, if the budget is approved, “due to the priority in establishing” of a new police department and to keep “tax increases to a minimum.”

Further, the plan calls for a hiring freeze at city hall outside of staff required for new facilities to open, such as the Clayton Heights Community Centre.

Staff note in budget documents that “this is not a long term sustainable strategy” and state that “further staffing adjustments may be made during the course of 2020 if service delivery demands increase beyond what has been anticipated.”

Annis said Tuesday the budget will increase housing costs, kill plans for community centres, parks, pools, rinks, road maintenance and much-needed police and firefighters.

“This budget is saying very clearly that as a city we’re going to cost you more and give you less,” said Annis in a release. “The mayor and his four supporters on council have nothing on their radar screen but the SPD and this budget is simply about making sure every dollar we have goes to the cost of transitioning to a new police department.”

As for the arts, the capital plan allocates $500,000 in 2023 for the Surrey Little Theatre relocation and $350,000 for renovations of the Surrey Arts Centre in 2022.

While the five-year plan allocates more than $133 million to capital projects, there is no mention of several postponed projects postponed in the 2018 budget cycle, including a community centre and library in Grandview Heights, as well as the acquisition of land for a performing arts centre in City Centre.

“It’s absolutely laughable,” said Ellie King, founder of the Royal Canadian Theatre Company, last week. “We’re not even in the game. It’s very disappointing.”

“We have basically one functional arts centre,” she lamented. “I’m speechless.”

The Draft Five Year (2020-2024 Financial Plans (General Operating, Capital and Utilities) public hearing on Monday Dec. 2 will begin a 1 p.m. in council chambers in City Hall.

After the presentation, the public can provide comments. Also, written comments will be considered up to and including Thursday Nov. 28, by 4 p.m. These should be addressed to Chair, Finance Committee, City of Surrey, 13450 104 Avenue Surrey, B.C., V3T 1V8, or by email to clerks@surrey.ca or by fax (604-501-7578).

-Files from Tom Zytaruk

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

Just Posted

The Alzheimer Society of BC is hosting a number of webinars next month to help people prepare for financial and healthcare needs. (Contributed photo)
Alzheimer Society invites White Rock residents to series of educational webinars

Planning Ahead: Do it Now! webinar to be held March 10

South Surrey’s Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann – the Bergmann Piano Duo – will present another colorful Surrey Civic Theatres Digital Stage concert., premiering online March 11. Contributed photo
South Surrey pianists Bergmann Duo blend musical colours

Rhapsody In Blue meets The Red Violin in online concert

St. John Ambulance is looking for financial support in its bid to install 1,000 publicly accessible AED devices throughout British Columbia. The stands which hold the defibrillator also contain naloxone and first aid kits. Cost to equip and install each stand is around $8,000. (stock photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

First of two defibrillators planned for Crescent Beach already in place

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Alex Browne photo The felling of two mature Douglas Fir ‘eagle trees’ on Oxford Street, just south of Prospect Avenue, in June of 2019, prompted a review of tree management bylaws and policies now before White Rock council. The trees were felled on instructions from City of White Rock staff, who said the work was necessary because they had become hazardous. (File photo)
City of White Rock mulls ‘tree protection’ bylaw

More stringent measures needed to protect canopy – councillor

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

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

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read