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AND FRANKLY: An interesting year lies ahead for residents of Surrey


One extremely political phrase sums up much of what 2024 will look like. It comes from Mayor Brenda Locke and the majority of Surrey council – “NDP Surrey tax.” The phrase is the keynote of an advertising and publicity campaign against the provincial government’s decision to impose the Surrey Police Service on the city, even though Locke’s council has voted to stop the transition.

The three words cover many of the most important issues facing local residents this year.

“Tax” is what many fear, as the taxes to pay for the SPS will rise far beyond inflation and far beyond what most B.C. municipalities impose on their residents this year.

“NDP” of course is the party which currently governs B.C., and the party hoping to win re-election in an October election. “Surrey” is an area where the party needs to win big and not lose a lot of ground, as Surrey’s 10 seats are crucial to any party wishing to form government.

The word “Surrey” of course covers far more ground than that. Numerous other issues will be prominent this year.

The province’s wholesale changes in housing rules will start to reshape some neighbourhoods drastically, with up to six units allowed on lots where just one detached home has stood. Developers and builders are looking carefully at that change, trying to see if it is economical to propose such projects, at a time of high interest rates.

Housing for those who have no place to live, or cannot afford sky-high rents, will also be a very important issue. Too many people are being left behind by governments and the housing market.

In an election year, the province will also be under scrutiny by Surrey residents, to see just what it will do about the explosion of students in Surrey school district.

There is no doubt that the large number of immigrants is adding significantly to the school-age population, and in some areas of Surrey, there is a massive shortage of classroom space.

Over to Education Minister Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers.

One big project will help the NDP in its battle for votes in Surrey. The SkyTrain extension will start to take noticeable shape this year, and it is almost universally welcomed.

Transit has been a major issue here for decades, but SkyTrain will definitely make it easier to get around both Surrey and the entire region.

Very few are mourning the decision by council, supported financially by both senior levels of government, to switch from a proposed LRT system to the more expensive Metro Vancouver standard of SkyTrain.

The extension of a SkyTrain line across Surrey is one of the most significant actions in many years, and will reshape where people live and how they get around. The benefit to Surrey and the greater region cannot be overestimated.

It’s going to be a very interesting year.

Frank Bucholtz writes twice a month for Black Press Media.