Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman (left) and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (Now-Leader file photos)

City, not Surrey Board of Trade, planning Mayor’s 2019 State of City Address

Business group won’t organize annual event for first time in decades

For the first time in decades, the city is organizing the annual Mayor’s State of the City Address.

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said city staff informed her three weeks ago that the city has decided to use “internal city resources” to put on this year’s event.

“They didn’t indicate why,” Huberman said Thursday. “I think a lot of our advocacy positions that we’ve had for years, for decades, are in conflict with the current local government. Perhaps that’s the reason, I don’t know. It’s unfortunate. We are a not-for-profit, we do a very good job, a professional job, hosting the event every year.”

In response to several requests for an interview with Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, the Mayor’s Office sent an emailed statement.

“For decades one group has put on the State of the City Address and I felt it was time for a change,” the statement read. “The City of Surrey has a strong and capable special events team, which I have tasked to organize this annual event as we move forward.”

Councillor Brenda Locke said she had not been made aware of the change, when asked for comment Friday afternoon.

“I don’t know anything about it,” she told the Now-Leader. “That’s the mayor’s area.”

See also: Metro Vancouver mayors cancel Surrey LRT in favour of SkyTrain

See also: Surrey Board of Trade ‘disappointed’ with switch to SkyTrain, says delay imminent

See also: Safe Surrey Coalition council members a no-show at forum on city’s policing future

The Surrey Board of Trade hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with McCallum on a number of issues – and hasn’t shied away from vocalizing it.

The business group has long advocated for light rail transit, a fully funded project endorsed by the former civic government but halted immediately by the newly elected council last fall. In a release two days after the civic election last October, SBOT said it will “continue to advocate for LRT, RCMP and ridesharing despite” the results of the election.

At the time, Huberman said she “hopes that the city’s new government will always be open for dialogue even when we have different perspectives.”

On Jan. 29 Safe Surrey Coalition councillors were a no-show at a Surrey Board of Trade-hosted forum on the city’s policing future amid the slate vowing to replace Surrey RCMP with a municipal force. Surrey council’s plan to replace RCMP came under some scrutiny at the event.

SBOT also said it was “disappointed” with the city’s budget, which delayed several civic amenities in an efford to reduce the city’s accrual of debt, and also meant no new police officers would be hired in 2019.

See also: Disappointment, frustration after Surrey council votes to approve budget

See also: TransLink reveals new plans for proposed Surrey-Langley SkyTrain

Meantime, last December Surrey council reduced the business group’s budget from a recommended $40,000 to $10,000, after SBOT initially asked for $85,000.

At the time, McCallum noted the move “makes it equal with the South Surrey Chamber of Commerce and also the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.”

See also: ZYTARUK: King Kong has nothing on this Surrey pair

See also: SBOT CEO ‘disappointed’ as Surrey council moves to cut $30K from proposed grant

SBOT has hosted the Mayor’s State of the City Address for the past 26 years that Huberman has been with the organization, and she is told the group hosted them in the 1980s as well.

According to Huberman, the event has cost between $80,000 to $100,000 in recent years, but she wouldn’t say how much revenue it brought in.

“We break even when we factor in staff time,” said Huberman.

Tickets for former mayor Linda Hepner’s fourth and final State of the City Address in 2018 were $110, or $1,210 for a table of 11. Given the estimated crowd size of 500 people at last year’s event, that would equate to roughly $55,000 in ticket sales, if all sold individually.

“In the end, things change, that’s life and we move forward,” Huberman said. “Whenever the event is, we will be there. I will be there. We want to hear the city’s new economic strategy under this government and we’ll see how we move forward.”

– With file from Tom Zytaruk



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

North Delta crime beat, week of Oct. 6

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

$50,000 reward for ‘extremely violent’ South Surrey murder suspect renewed

Offer for information on Brandon Teixeira to remain in effect through April, 2020

Surrey moves to ban sleeping overnight in RVs, motorhomes on city streets

Proposal comes amid complaints about homeless people living in recreational vehicles

Surrey restaurant owner who pointed handgun at staff loses court appeal

Jawahar Singh Padda tried to get his 30-month sentenced reduced

South Surrey man allows smart meter installation ‘under duress’

BC Hydro says devices emit fraction of radio frequency from a cellphone

ELECTION 2019: It’s so close, it could come down to who turns out to vote

Black Press Media’s polling analyst on the origins of predictive seat modelling in Canada

Jack’s Devils beat Quinn’s Canucks 1-0 in NHL brother battle

New Jersey youngster scores first career goal against Vancouver

Two charged after owner’s wild ride through Kamloops in his stolen truck

Crystal Rae Dorrington, 37, and Derrick Ronald Pearson, 32, facing multiple charges

Kamloops Blazers blank Vancouver Giants

A loss on the road for G-men

Man found dead inside Richmond business, IHIT investigating

Police believe the incident was not random

Judge orders credit union’s bank records for Kelowna social worker facing theft allegations

The man is accused of negligence, breach of contract, fraud and a conspiracy with Interior Savings

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Allegations of racism lead to ministry investigation at Vancouver private school

St. George’s School was contacted over what the school describes as ‘deeply offensive behaviour online’

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Most Read