It is easy to lose faith in governments at all levels in Canada.
The White Rock council decision to make policy during an in-camera meeting regarding garbage pickup – affecting perhaps thousands of constituents – and not expect considerable political fallout is a little surprising.
I do recall the garbage strike last year. I don’t recall any candidates campaigning on privatization of garbage pickup in the recent election.
There appears to be two sides – to quote Mayor Wayne Baldwin – that “have moved from respectful democratic debate” (White Rock elected officials ‘threatened, harassed’, April 15).
The decision to remove ‘no’ signs from public property by the City of Surrey – as they are apparently illegal, except during an election campaign (City of Surrey takes down ‘no’ signs, April 10)– reminds me of actions behind the Iron Curtain.
Rather than make the policy to increase sales taxes, we get a referendum to vote for it or not. Then the government spends a lot of our tax money to promote the ‘yes’ side, but prohibits private money from promoting the ‘no’ side.
Finally, the Supreme Court of Canada declares unconstitutional a minimum-sentence law for illegal loaded-gun possession, while there have been about 20 shootings in the Surrey/Delta area in recent weeks.
In my admittedly biased view, I think that if the Constitutional rights of the gunslingers trumps public safety, our legal system should look a lot harder at the Constitution.
In all my travels, I often reflect that Canada is the best country to be born in. I hope governments don’t change my mind in my lifetime.
Bob Holden, White Rock
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The mayor of Surrey feels the removal of signs against the transit referendum is acceptable, even though it reflects badly on council.
This action is not acceptable and it does more than show “poor optics.” It reveals a callous disregard of democracy. These signs were not paid for with public funds, unlike the ‘yes’ campaign run out of city hall.
Mayor Hepner, you also stated you are not the sheriff. This is probably a good thing, as the actions against peaceful protest you support would undermine that authority.
Michael Gibbs, Surrey
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I’ve been a supporter of White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin in the past, especially during his days as city manager. But I am extremely disappointed at the way council has rammed through its policy on multi-unit garbage collection.
Civic governments should never make major policy decisions behind closed doors. In-camera meetings are to allow fulsome discussion on such things as the awarding of contracts and human-resource issues. But the basic policy decision to hand over an essential service to the private sector must be debated in an open forum and be subject to public scrutiny. What on earth were members of council thinking… if at all?
With all the negatives associated with council’s ill-advised decision, may I add a couple more:
How is it responsible to have multiple contractors in multiple diesel garbage trucks roaming the back alleys of White Rock and shuffling garbage back and forth across South Surrey – not to mention the incessant noise? And what sort of controls are in place to ensure all garbage is disposed of safely?
Paul Griffin, White Rock
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It also took 20 stabbings and shootings to wake up a mayor who is obviously much more concerned about her image in the not-so-white tower – a.k.a. city hall – and is as persistently persuasive as a mosquito to get us all to vote ‘yes or else’.
Surely the vast majority knows we are years behind in having adequate public transportation in this growing city. But Hepner did not realize a ‘yes’ vote would be easily acquired if the yet-another-top-up tax had not been in there, as we’ve all had enough of the excessive taxes we already pay.
She is far from being creative enough to come up with another form of payment for what we need here in Surrey but tries to cover up her lack of a plan B by bullying us into the ‘yes’ vote or we’ll get punished by a raise in property taxes.
Too busy with her tunnel-TransLink vision, she ignores the safety of the city she is supposed to ‘reign’ over and not until not one but two editors really spelled it out to her did she become aware that it’s the Queen herself, not her regents, the RCMP, who must reassure the people that things are under control.
As it is, many people have not been feeling all that safe in Surrey for quite some time, and the mayor should not sigh “isn’t that just beyond comprehension,” but actually be seen in action, with the RCMP, with the premier and with anybody she thinks might put a swift end to all this old Chicago-style drug war insanity.
M.M. Keij, Surrey
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In films, when the citizens of Small Town, Anywhere unite, speak eloquently and passionately about a heartfelt community issue, officials heed popular opinion, see the error of their ways and accede to their citizens’ wishes. Not in White Rock.
Instead, our council ignores the reasoned appeals of its citizens, attempting to mollify them with expensive unsought fripperies.
Somehow the one councillor who agrees with the populace is marginalized (Mayor mum on deputy position, April 17).
What will citizens do to ameliorate this egregious behaviour?
We will watch. We will wait. When necessary, we will speak. And as the behemoth trucks, in great numbers, roll through our fair city, we will remember. Yes, we will remember. That is a promise.
Theresa Reilkoff, White Rock
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While the Surrey First regime ramps up into damage-control mode once more, massaging the optics, what is the reality of Surrey life here in our neighbourhoods?
It feels like a war zone like Chicago in the 1920s.
And the protagonists are: the peasants (residents who will pay all the outstanding costs of this mayhem for a very long time); the elected rulers (Surrey First, upon whose care and wisdom we depend); and the battling warlords (those among our developers who follow no rules and care only how much cash they can extract in the briefest possible time).
Why focus on them, and not the gangs actually doing the shooting? Because I believe it is the insane pace of neighbourhood disruption that has destroyed the strong communities that produced a healthy culture for raising good kids.
Surrey has used a scorched-earth policy to replace such communities with super-dense warehousing of families without factors necessary to a good neighbourhood culture. They ignored planning practices that insist on schools, plentiful green space, tree preservation, community gardens, public squares and good public transit – ahead of gridlock, not after!
What happened to community policing? I understand it’s a good way to keep kids out of gangs.
But Surrey says we can’t afford these things. Seems to me, you can pay one way, or pay another.
So who is running this show? Not residents. Without engaged citizens – both being heard, and seeing results – democracy can’t be found; it hides in a corner ducking bullets.
Alisa Wilson, Surrey
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The City of Surrey is contributing $300,000 towards the regional total of $7 million which is to be spent on advertising to try to persuade voters to agree to give TransLink even more money (Surrey earmarks up to $300,000 for ‘yes’, Feb. 17).
Is this a case of politicians claiming to know what is best for us ignorant or uninformed voters?
Frankly, I am annoyed and disappointed that you, Mayor Linda Hepner, would spend taxpayers’ money in this manner. It is not what we expect of our elected politicians.
May I remind you that this is a referendum to find out what voters want. Local government officials have a responsibility to wait for the people to speak and then act in accordance with their wishes – and not to try to influence their vote.
Until TransLink demonstrates that they practise good corporate governance and are fiscally responsible, I, for one, am not prepared to give them another cent.
Ken Harrap, Surrey