First in a series of profiles on Surrey city councillors elected on Oct. 15
No longer a rookie, Linda Annis returns to Surrey city council for a second term having topped the polls with 35,222 votes in the Oct. 15 election.
She said she learned over the past four-year term to appreciate how diverse and culturally rich Surrey is, a lot about the city’s potential for development and need for “smart” development. “I believe I have learned a lot about how we could do a much better job around public engagement and transparency. I’ve learned about the importance of engaging the community in our whole public safety strategy.”
Asked how she will apply this to her second term, Annis said what she’s learned from being a councillor, and from Surrey residents, will make her a “much more effective councillor, because I have knowledge and knowledge to me certainly provides you with the tools that are required to make better informed decisions.”
The Surrey First councillor and South Surrey resident is not alone this time, as slate-mate Mike Bose was also elected, with 30,763 votes.
“He’s a really great guy and his family has done so much for Surrey over the past years, and of course Mike himself has done an awful lot too so it’s nice to have him there.”
Both Surrey First councillors will be sworn-in on Nov. 7, along with Surrey Connect Mayor Brenda Locke and Surrey Connect councillors Harry Bains, Gordon Hepner, Rob Stutt, Pardeep Kooner and Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra.
During her past term, Annis served on numerous committees such as audit, finance, the heritage commission, parks and recreation, community services, the library board and was was council liaison to the SAFE Program and the Downtown BIA. “While the mayor and I had our differences,” she said of outgoing mayor Doug McCallum, “he was more than fair with me about putting me on committees.”
Ever busy, Annis has also served as executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers since 2004, chairwoman of the board for the Zajac Ranch for Children,chairwoman of the board for Osteoporosis Canada, a director of Semiahmoo House, director at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, a director of the Provincial Capital Commission, a member of the Surrey Board of Trade’s crime and justice committee and as a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade’s community safety committee. A recipient of the Queen’s Diamond and Platinum Jubilee Medal for volunteering, Annis has also volunteered at Peace Arch Hospital and with the Nature Trust of BC, on the board of SurreyCares Community Foundation and also serves on Metro Vancouver Regional District’s board.
Asked what her priorities are, she replied with a laugh. “My first priority is to get my dog to quit barking. Sorry about that, her timing is always impeccable.”
That would be Randi. Annis’s other Dalmatian is Ron.
“The big one for me to start with is getting city hall open for the residents again,” she rejoins. “We need to be bringing back the advisory committees in a meaningful way so we’ve actually got people that are engaged in whatever the committee is about, consulting with council, consulting and advising council.”
Annis says she wants to see city hall opened up for extended hours so people have greater access and an hour set aside before each council meeting so people can talk about concerns not necessarily related to land issues.
“Right now if you’re wanting to come and speak before council it has to be about a development project and I think we should have more opportunities for people to be able to speak,” she said. “Also, city council needs to be going out to the community and doing town halls and I think it’s really critical right now as we’re about to go into the budgeting process.”
Getting the issue of affording housing “back on the table” is also a priority. “Getting our process in the planning department smoothed out so that we can get things put through in a much more timely fashion. I hear over and over again from homeowners that are wanting to do an addition – small, medium and large-scale developers that it just takes way too long to get things through city hall and we need to fix that.
“If we’re wanting to have more affordable housing, we need to be looking at moving projects through more quickly because time is money and people are borrowing money to carry projects, that gets passed on to the consumer. I think we also need to be looking at how we can be working more collaboratively with not-for-profits on housing.”