Megan Knight, Independent, Surrey-White Rock
1) The City of Surrey’s decision to transition to a municipal police force has raised concerns among constituents over costs and transparency. How would you address these? Is a public referendum the answer?
A: A referendum on removing the RCMP should have occurred, with full costs outlined and the benefits detailed. It was a referendum long ago that created an RCMP detachment for Surrey, and removing them should be by referendum. My father was the Staff Sergeant for Surrey, so I know how important policing is. A higher cost with fewer officers does not ensure our safety. A quick change in policing is not in the best interest of the citizens of Surrey. It will create a two-tiered approach between White Rock and Surrey, which will be operating independently with different police forces. This does not seem to make sense for the Peninsula.
2) Covid-19 has exposed some cracks in the system with regard to senior’s health – particularly those in long-term care. What approach would you favour in dealing with this?
A: The pandemic has laid bare weaknesses in our approach to seniors. The single site standard where workers only provide care at one long term care residence should be permanent, to help ensure health and safety, not only from COVID-19, but from other contagions which during winter, often cause illness, quarantine, and unfortunately sometimes death. But we must also ensure that our seniors’ mental and social wellbeing is addressed. Dr. Henry’s excellent work has steered us through this global crisis. Flu shots, Covid vaccines, the best hospital care, PPE equipment are all priorities. Our health care system needs to provide much more in-home support to enable where possible our seniors to remain safely in their homes.
3) What is the best path to take in helping B.C. and the Semiahmoo Peninsula in its economic recovery, and for supporting business during, and after, the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: This pandemic means that in the short term, we must do everything we can to support buy-local programs, even more than usual. A second wave of closures will spell the end for many businesses we rely on. We need a multilevel government coordination of funds and energy into our business community. Good policies for rent and tax relief for businesses, but also financial support for Canadians affected by COVID, needs to be thoughtful. With these initiatives, we can circulate more money into our economy and help pave the way to economic recovery.
4) What would you like to see done to improve educational facilities, and to address ongoing school overcrowding, in the riding?
A: Surrey School District is underfunded. We are the most diverse and fastest-growing district in the province. Many students learn in portables. The recent new school announcements with funding attached has been an improvement, but not enough schools are yet being built to address demand. School projections need to be considered, so that we’re not building schools that are already too small when they open. (International refugees need to be in projected counts approx. 1500 a year). If portables continue to exist, they must be upgraded to include accessibility, ventilation and sinks. We need to ensure housing growth and capital funding is better aligned in the future.
• ALSO RUNNING IN SURREY-WHITE ROCK
5) What is/are the most pressing environmental concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: The most pressing concerns are the need to address climate change, including rising tides and erosion of our foreshore. Green space and tree canopy must be preserved through smart growth principles; development must be green, with policies to support solar panels, thermal energy, electric car spaces, etc. Tree planting programs with federal support can be expanded. We must also prevent dangerous goods from travelling through our community by rail before an accident occurs. We need to maintain our parks and forest for future generations to enjoy.
6) Strata dwellers in B.C. saw a sharp rise in their insurance rates over a single year, with Metro Vancouver residents seeing an average increase of more than 50 per cent. Has the current government done enough to address this issue. If not, what other steps should be taken?
A: The current state of the strata insurance market is unhealthy. Strata insurance impacts affordability for renters and homeowners. With rising premiums and triple digit deductible increases in strata insurance, it is unfair to those stratas that have had good management. But for others, forgoing new levies to maintain a roof might be a savings now, but a greater burden later. There needs to be balance. The BC Financial Services Report to the government clearly outlined where the problems lie and everyone involved has a role to play to ensure a fair resolution.
7) Transportation continues to be a concern for local commuters. What can and should be done at a provincial level to help relieve gridlock?
A: Transit continues to be a priority issue, partly in the fact that we are at the end of the line. There are not enough options and connections to get around. “Build the Bridge” should not be a slogan in 2020. The Massey Tunnel replacement should have started long ago. Politics got in the way and Surrey-White Rock has suffered the gridlock. I support a bridge because it is desperately needed now. We also need more Express buses on the most active routes.
8) What is/are the most pressing health care concern(s) for residents in the riding and how would it/they be best addressed?
A: Our area continues to grow and with that come increased demands for health care services. We need a vision to keep our health care system ahead of the curve. This is a major concern if COVID continues to gain momentum. People can’t find a doctor, there are huge wait times for procedures and just being able to get procedures done at the Peace Arch Hospital is tough. Our hospital will have to continue to grow, with a focus on more patient care beds and expanded inpatient and outpatient surgery. The provincial government needs to encourage people to enter into the health care field and to choose our community to serve.
9) Would you support a cap on the percentage increase in rent/lease rates that commercial landlords in B.C. could impose upon tenants in a single year? Why or why not?
A: Small businesses are facing such difficulty making ends meet, due to the tremendous economic impacts from COVID. A limited rental cap rate combined with ever increasing property taxes will still be costs downloaded to the tenant. I don’t believe a rental cap is the answer. So many businesses are closing down because the provincial and federal response and complicated relief offerings hasn’t helped them enough or at all. There will likely be a glut of vacant space for some time, and those market conditions will naturally force rents lower.