A crowd of nearly 100 packs Rotary Field House in South Surrey to listen to civic candidates Monday evening.

A crowd of nearly 100 packs Rotary Field House in South Surrey to listen to civic candidates Monday evening.

Surrey residents try to keep candidates concise

South Surrey's only all-candidates meeting – held at the Rotary Field House Monday – touched on a number of contentious issues.

South Surrey’s only all-candidates meeting – held at the Rotary Field House Monday – touched on a number of contentious issues facing the city.

Nearly 100 people came to hear civic candidates’ responses to Semiahmoo Residents Association questions on matters ranging from public safety to Surrey’s annual economic summit.

Questions were posed in an unusual format in order to accommodate as many answers as possible on seven subjects. Candidates were all asked a question, initially only being able to answer “yes” or “no.” After everyone had answered, each could use one of three ‘green cards’ to answer in detail.

The first divisive question of the night asked if candidates agreed Surrey’s crime rate had gone down and, if so, what they would do to continue the trend.

All attending candidates from the Surrey First slate – incumbents Linda Hepner, Barinder Rasode, Barbara Steele, Judy Villeneuve, Marvin Hunt, first-time candidate Bruce Hayne and mayoral incumbent  Dianne Watts – agreed the crime rate had gone down, a statement echoed by independents Paul Griffin, Imtiaz Popat, Judy Higginbotham and Bernadette Keenan.

The Surrey Civic Coalition was split on the answer, with Bob Bose and Stephanie Ryan agreeing the rate had gone down, and Grant Rice, Doug Elford and Gary Robinson – as well as independents Deanna Welters, Touraj Ghanbar-Zadeh and Ross Buchanan – saying it had not.

When it came time to give detailed answers, mayoral-candidate Buchanan called a Nov. 7 progress report on Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy “bogus,” saying it should be called a “regress report.”

Candidates

“The odds of being stabbed or shot at night in Surrey is 300 per cent – three times greater – than in Portland or Seattle,” Buchanan said.

Elford agreed with Buchanan, adding that the solution is more police on the street. However, Rasode said statistics show the crime rate has gone down.

The Surrey Regional Economic Summit, held in October, was another point of contention because of the presence of keynote speaker George W. Bush. Candidates were asked whether the invitation to the former U.S. president was beneficial to Surrey’s reputation. Only members of Surrey First agreed it was.

When asked if candidates would continue the summits, independents Buchanan, Ghanbar-Zadeh and Popat  and SCC members – with the exception of Ryan – said they would not.

Bose said Watts showed an “incredible lack of good judgment” when she invited Bush to the summit. Rice agreed with Bose, adding that inviting Bush was “insulting to our Muslim brothers and sisters” and that he was “ashamed” on behalf of residents.

Watts was quick to address Rice’s statement when she spoke in favour of the summit, saying community members from all backgrounds attended.

“We do have a Muslim (present) that was at the summit, and I don’t believe he was offended,” Watts said.

Rice sparred with a second Surrey First member when the SCC candidate said the city was “almost bankrupt” and that Surrey had “drained” its reserves. Hunt, who had chaired Surrey’s finance committee in previous years, refuted Rice’s statement, saying the city has more than $500 million in reserves and that he had “no idea” what Rice was talking about.

Despite the flare-ups, the candidates did agree on some issues, including that gas taxes should not be raised to fund TransLink projects. Hunt was the only candidate who would not give a definitive ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ saying it was not a simple answer.

Other question topics included Surrey’s green space, the city’s lower-than-average taxes and multiple city centres.

The meeting was hosted by the Semiahmoo residents group, after earlier debate plans were cancelled by the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce due to financial constraints.

Election day is Saturday.

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

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service responded to a fire in the industrial area of 192nd street and 54th Avenue early Saturday morning (Jan. 23, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews respond to fire in industrial area

Fire happened early Saturday morning

White Rock Rotary Club president Mauricio Browne de Paula (front right) with other club and community volunteers at the launch of the free hot lunch program at the city parking lot at Russell Avenue and Johnston Road on May 21. (File photo)
Daily demand for White Rock Rotary, city lunch program surpasses 40

Recipients ‘are very good people… going through some tough times’

Students at Creekside Elementary in Surrey wrote letters to seniors over the holidays, and are planning to write more for Valentine’s Day and Family Day. (Photo: surreyschools.ca)
Surrey elementary students connect with seniors through letter writing

Creekside students planning to send more cards for Valentine’s Day

Judy and Ken Reid share a smile at Peace Arch Hospital in 2018. Judy raised concerns last month about how the COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out. Now, she says no one is telling residents or families when they will start to see restrictions ease. (Contributed photo)
Timeline for reduced restrictions in long-term care a concern for spouse of South Surrey senior

‘We’re not yet at that point,’ says provincial health officer

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

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

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read