Crime, suites and pools.
Those are some of the issues that Cloverdale Community Association president Mike Bola is calling on candidates to consider in the upcoming election.
The Cloverdale Community Association met last Wednesday night (Sept. 19) to discuss what issues are most important for Cloverdale and Clayton, and what residents need from Surrey’s next council. Some of these issues are common across the city: crime, transit, development. Others are specific to the history and culture of Surrey’s oldest town centre.
Public safety was the first major issue identified in a letter sent out by Bola following the Wednesday meeting.
“The City of Surrey has not done enough to deal with the shootings” in the Cloverdale and Clayton areas, Bola wrote.
So far this year, there have been 31 shootings in all of Surrey, according to numbers from the Surrey RCMP. (The RCMP doesn’t track shootings based on area.) Black Press Media has reported on five shootings in Cloverdale and Clayton since the beginning of the year.
Bola said the community association had asked “for a cheap solution to be implemented” to help stop shootings: installing more intersection cameras. Currently there are 28 traffic cameras in Cloverdale, Bola noted, but he said that more should be installed in high-use areas, especially where fatal shootings have occurred, to help trace the route taken by shooters.
Property crime and theft was also identified as a key issue by the association. According to Surrey RCMP, Cloverdale and Port Kells saw 588 thefts from vehicles from January to June of this year, down 18 per cent from 2017. The area also saw an 82 per cent increase in stolen property crimes since 2017, with a total of 31 instances in the first half of the year.
Development and density has been an important topic in Cloverdale and Clayton for years, and it will be no different during this election season.
Bola said the association was concerned “that the city planning department [is] being too lenient with developers, and trying to cater to their needs.” He said the developers should be following the neighbourhood community plans (NCPs) created by the city and not asking for amendments.
“Our association will no longer support NCP amendments where the NCPs are less than five years old at minimum, possibly even considering 10 years old,” he wrote.
Currently, the city is in the process of creating a new Cloverdale Town Centre plan. The East Clayton neighbourhood plan was approved in 2003, and extended in 2005. The West Clayton plan was approved in 2015, and the North and West Cloverdale plans were approved in the mid- to late-90s.
The community association’s residential concerns also extend to the prevalence of multiple suites in Clayton. This has been an ongoing issue in the community, and one which saw a controversial response from the current council when they decided to send a letter to Clayton residents, evicting the tenants and telling landlords to remove one of their multiple suites. (Council eventually retracted this demand, and decided to legalize existing multiple suites.)
The Cloverdale Community Association would like to see a pool built in Cloverdale, and Bola said it is a request that candidates should seriously consider in the upcoming election.
“Residents have been asking for a pool for many years, and we have yet to see one be built on the fairgrounds,” he wrote. “It is now time for Cloverdale to get its own pool, and our residents deserve it.”
The association is asking for an Olympic-sized swimming pool to be built in the community, as well as a track so residents can have a local place to safely walk or run. Bola also noted that the two ice sheets being built in Cloverdale won’t be enough to fill demand for ice time, and said the city should push for more.
Bola said he still believes SkyTrain would be better for the Cloverdale area.
“We are still of the opinion that SkyTrain would be better suited for Fraser Highway to connect Langley and possibly Abbotsford,” Bola wrote. He said that the association is hoping for a station at Fraser Highway and 176 Street, which he said could be better achieved with SkyTrain rather than ground rail.
“We need to keep our downtown Cloverdale business area thriving, and this can only be done if public transit brings people to Cloverdale,” he added.
Several candidates have already made their positions about LRT in Surrey known. Former mayor Doug McCallum has said he would support scrapping the LRT project in favour of a SkyTrain line, as would the People First Surrey party, while Progressive Sustainable Surrey candidate Imtiaz Popat said he would support a revival of the interurban over light rail or SkyTrain. Other candidates support the light rail project, in large part because the funding has already been secured.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a new council wouldn’t be able to change the decision on the light rail project.
“Today, we are moving forward with the Surrey LRT regardless of the outcome of the next election – municipal election – that money is flowing,” he said.
At the end of the association’s statement, Bola called on politicians to listen to the needs of Cloverdale and Clayton residents. He also called on residents to “get out and vote for those who are not afraid of listening and taking action on behalf of the Cloverdale [and] Clayton residents.”
The civic election will take place on Saturday, Oct. 20.