1. From the outside the citizens felt it was a heated and divisive election campaign. Did you feel the same? Now that you can put that behind you what can you and Surrey residents look forward to?
There’s no doubt this campaign was hard fought, and it was easy to be distracted from the important issues. What helped me keep my focus and shut out all the noise, was engaging with our residents - talking and listening to them on what their concerns and priorities are and what we can accomplish as a new Council. Over the next four years, I can assure our residents that they will have a City Council that will work for you, work with you and listen to you.
2. How will your leadership style be different from the outgoing mayor Doug McCallum’s, and what will be your immediate priorities?
Public input on the direction of neighbourhoods, communities and the city will not only be sought after, but it will also be welcomed. Openness and transparency will be the hallmark of this Council. As for immediate priorities, re-establish the public trust in our city and ensuring that the Surrey RCMP remains as the police of jurisdiction of our city are the top tasks at hand.
3. One of your election promises has been to restore ethics back at City Hall, so will you be reinstating the Ethics commissioner by renewing his term as the role has been vacant since July?
Absolutely. The Office of Ethics Commissioner will not only be restored, but it will be strengthened to ensure independence and transparency.
4. There are candidates chosen from three slates that are part of the newly formed Council with the majority of the Councillors being from your Surrey Connect slate. How do you feel this will play out and that there won’t be any friction or abandonment?
We have had four years of a divisive Council and it is in nobody’s best interest to continue down that path. I will be working to make sure that there is healthy dialogue and debate with all Councillors, regardless of political stripe. We may not always agree, but all points of view will be respectfully heard. If we are able to work off the same page, we will collectively achieve great things for Surrey.
5. With the economic uncertainty of our times, you are wanting to put a pause on the Surrey Police transition and keep the RCMP in Surrey. Don’t you feel that that process has now gone too far ahead and it would be an unnecessary burden on taxpayers and instead that money can be better utilized in another area?
I would respectfully disagree. In fact, the burden for Surrey taxpayers will be greater if we continue with the transition. City staff are working on a report for the Solicitor General, who I have met with, on how we will re-establish RCMP as the police of jurisdiction in Surrey. We will be saving money by doing this and that translates into lower taxes and additional funds to invest in community amenities and facilities.
6. The previous mayor Doug McCallum made announcements regarding sports, recreation, and arts centres in order to keep up with Surrey’s rapid growth. Will you be giving the green light for the Newton Community Centre, the 60,000 capacity stadium, and a new swimming pool for the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre to name a few?
The 60,000 seat stadium will not happen. It is something that Surrey doesn’t need and I will not be squandering tax dollars on this white elephant. With Surrey’s rapid growth, we need to focus on building and expanding public amenities that serve families, especially children and youth, at the neighbourhood level, which include projects like the Newton Community Center. Council will look for every opportunity to achieve these civic amenities in a fiscally responsible manner.
7. What will be your strategy to tackle the housing crisis, your commitment on property tax increases, and other taxes put in place by the City?
What we can do at the civic level of government is to cut red-tape and increase technology to allow for efficient approval of building permits. We can also look to providing some city lands to partner on housing projects. You can guarantee that Surrey will be fully cooperative on this front. When it comes to funding, I can guarantee you that I will be building better relationships with the province and federal government so that Surrey gets its fair share of housing investment dollars. Surrey will be hosting a “Housing Summit” in the Spring.
8. Transportation has been a huge issue South of the Fraser. Whether we look at the Surrey Langley SkyTrain project or more bus service in some of the key areas of Surrey. What kind of infrastructure do you support and how will you link some of the main city centres in Surrey?
Surrey needs transit options that can get up and running quickly and not years from now. I welcome the new SkyTrain line for Surrey, but big projects like this take a lot of time to get approved, funded and constructed. Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of waiting, we need new transit services now. From more buses to new rapid bus routes, Council will be working on immediate relief for our citizens who spend far too much time in traffic.
9. The 84th Avenue corridor project through the south end of Bear Creek Park from King George Boulevard to 140th Street at a cost of $18 million, with modifications to BC Hydro transmission lines estimated to cost millions more has been a bone of contention with the group Forces of Nature Society. What will be your strategy with extension in 2022 in order to provide a balance between accessibility and ease of traffic congestion as well as the environment?
There’s no question the importance of balancing Surrey’s green spaces with the needs of a transportation system for a growing city, that is why I have asked staff for a report recommending next steps for Council to consider.
10. What’s a message you would like to share with the South Asian community?
Surrey’s South Asian community is an integral part of the fabric of Surrey and I invite all to be a part of this pivotal moment in time. Great things are set for this city and every Surrey resident can play a role in shaping our city. As we go forward, there will be a City Council that is transparent, accountable and ethical to serve all our residents.