Surrey’s civic political landscape, as in other Lower Mainland communities, changed dramatically in 2018.
In many cities and municipalities, it was a case of out with the old and in with the new.
But at Surrey City Hall, it was out with the old, in with the older.
Doug McCallum, after a 13-year hiatus from the mayor’s seat — which he occupied from 1996 to 2005 before being defeated by Dianne Watts — returned with a vengeance in October.
Prior to the Oct. 20 civic election, no fewer than nine incumbent mayors decided not to run again for office for a variety of reasons.
Among them were Linda Hepner, Surrey’s mayor from Dec. 8, 2014 to Nov. 5, 2018, and Delta’s long-serving mayor Lois Jackson — kind-of — as she didn’t run again for the mayor’s seat but was returned as a councillor.
White Rock mayor Wayne Baldwin, Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, and City of Langley mayor Ted Shaffer also decided to not seek re-election.
And on it went.
Doug McCallum being sworn in as Surrey’s mayor, again, on Nov. 5 (City of Surrey photo)
In Surrey, veteran city councillor and perennial poll-topper Judy Villeneuve, who was first elected in 1989, also retired from civic politics, as did councillor Mary Martin, first elected in 2005.
Their long-time colleagues on council — Tom Gill, Bruce Hayne, Dave Woods and Barbara Steele, Vera LeFranc and Mike Starchuk — were reluctantly retired by voters, at the polls.
Stopped dead in its tracks, by the incoming mayor and council, was Surrey First’s plan for light rail transit.
The $1.65 billion Surrey-Newton-Guildford train system is no more, with SkyTrain to be expanded instead.
This past year also saw some longtime businesses in Surrey shutter their doors once and for all.
Sears, a long-time anchor and department store at Surrey’s Guildford Town Centre, closed for business in January, as did two Safeway stores, at Newton Town Centre and Strawberry Hill. The Newton Community Gaming Centre, aka bingo hall, closed its door forever in April.
And Surrey’s Two EE’s Farm Market in Fleetwood closed in October, after 58 years in business.
In May, with a final few clickity clicks and clackity clacks, elderly surviving members of the B.C. Chapter of the Morse Telegraph Club gathered in Surrey to signal a nostalgic end to their organization, turning the page on a communications era.
In June, about 80 tents were removed from Whalley’s notorious 135A Street strip as homeless people were moved into 160 modular housing units and shelters nearby.
A so-called tent city populated with drug addicted and homeless people on 135A Street in Whalley was dismantled in June. (File Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
The Surrey Biofuel Facility — the first of its type in North America — opened in March in Port Kells, designed to turn organic waste into fuel.
This year welcomed other landmarks to Surrey. The highrise Civic Hotel, in Whalley, staged its grand opening in September despite having been open to the public since April.
Also, the Museum of Surrey, in Cloverdale, opened to the public in September following completion of a $15.7 million expansion that includes a “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibit, the TD Explore Zone and the Indigenous Hall.