Five against four – Surrey’s seen it before.
When Bob Bose was mayor in the early 1990s, he sat at the helm of a rock-em, sock-em council that, like the city’s current incarnation, typically conducted Surrey’s business on a five-to-four split vote.
Bose’s crew, the long-defunct and NDP-tied Surrey Civic Electors, had the four votes on council while the pro-development (and also long-defunct) Surrey Electors Team enjoyed a five-vote majority.
That one vote was everything. Bonnie Schrenk, a SET councillor who was known in some circles as “Queen of the Bulldozers,” though stricken with cancer, actually left her death bed to cast a deciding vote on an issue that clearly was extremely important to her.
By contrast, during the watches of former mayors Dianne Watts and Linda Hepner, some council watchers lamented the homogeneity of the councils these two led under Surrey First, where everyone typically voted the same way. Kind of like watching a Canucks’ game where both sides are the Canucks. Yawn.
Today we are back to that old five-to-four split, though this time, unlike what Bose dealt with, Mayor Doug McCallum leads the dominant five-to-four crew against four other councillors, three of which, remarkably, were once card-carrying members of McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition.
And so, on Monday, a controversial city budget was passed by, of course, five votes to four. While the minority on council scorned the budget, the SSC championed it as the best, and historic. Was it really, though, considering it won only 55.5 per cent of council’s support, and during a pandemic yet?
As the city now turns the page on Budget 2021, the story is not yet finished, and it will only be a matter of time where either the five, or the four, get to say, “Told you so.”