The Safe Surrey Coalition majority knocked down two of political rival Coun. Brenda Locke’s motions on Monday night and a third she withdrew herself.
The first involved the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain expansion budget and timeline. Locke called on city staff provide “all of council” a detailed report of the “current cost estimates and timeline for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, including the necessity to have the Fraser Highway road disruption now, when the improvements are not required at this time.”
Given it won’t be completed until 2028, Locke told council it’s time to look at the cost and why residents are dealing with traffic disruption now on Fraser Highway, where preliminary construction for the project is underway.
“Perhaps there’s very good reason for that but I think that it would be appropriate that we looked at that and gave the information to the residents,” she said. “I think it’s also important that as we’re getting closer to the next provincial budget we see where they are.”
“I’m hopeful and excited that this will go through I just think we should be clear with the public about the timelines and the cost estimates moving forward.”
Coun. Jack Hundial said he supported this for two reasons.
“I want to make sure that we put other levels of government on notice as well that there’s a commitment made, we want to see it, and also for the residents as well.”
Mayor Doug McCallum didn’t see the need for it, though. “I think we’re well aware of where it’s at, most governments have given their support to it, the timelines are known of when it’s going to be completed and that’s also been announced by both governments, and when I say both governments, federal and provincial.
“I, through our TransLink, can tell you the province is working very hard on it right now completing a number of functions that they do. They also are allowing us to do some pre-work on it which is the Fraser Highway and some other work that’s being done on it. In my opinion it’s moving faster, by doing it in one project we save two years so it’s going to be done two years earlier than was announced at the beginning, which is really good news.
“And so I think we have as far as governments are concerned have kept council and the public for that matter completely up to date so I don’t see any need for this particular motion.”
It was defeated.
Locke also presented a motion for city staff to consider “if and how a limited number of the public could be allowed to
participate in public hearing meetings through audio participation.”
She said there remains “very many” people who are concerned about their safety venturing into council chambers in person and council itself is still doing “virtual” committee meeting as much as it can.
“The spirit and the intent of council is that this is the people’s place, we are here to do the people’s business and we are here to do that in a transparent and open way and so for me I think the access that we provide to the public is really, really important,” Locke said.
“Many people I know continue to suffer because of the impact of COVID-19 and have been isolated for a long time, so coming into spaces and places like this is concerning to them and maybe even moreso because we don’t require the (vaccination) passport in this place,” Locke added. “The lifting of restrictions is not a light on, light off for some people. I think it’s just respectful to do it for the public and for some of those people that have concerns.
“I just wanted to add, I’m not happy to add this, but I’m just going to add it I was listening to the federal news and they’re now talking about a fifth wave.”
Coun. Linda Annis supported the motion, saying city hall “should be open and accessible to all, and there are those that have compromised immune systems and are concerned about coming to council or meeting with larger groups and I think we need to be accommodating.”
Some other councils are working in a hybrid environment, she said, while others are not yet meeting in person in their council chambers.
The Safe Surrey Coalition majority – with the mayor and councillors Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton, Doug Elford and Laurie Guerra – defeated this motion too.
Locke withdrew a third motion.