Paul Orazietti says a “dangerous” power pole helped drive him into politics.
The civic-government hopeful announced his candidacy for city councillor with the Surrey First slate July 26.
Orazietti, the current executive director of the Cloverdale BIA, launched a quest to move the power pole but a continuous lack of action at the local level made him realize if he wanted to get things done, he’d have to put his name forward.
“Over the span of almost two years, there was one meeting about the pole,” Orazietti said. “That meeting was in a parking lot to acknowledge that this intersection is complicated.”
Orazietti is speaking of the intersection of Hwy 10 and 177B Street. A power pole sits basically in the middle of the sidewalk at the corner of the intersection (see picture above). He’s been trying to get the pole moved for years so people with mobility issues don’t have a hard time crossing over from the north side of Hwy 10 to Clover Square Village shopping centre.
“I realize moving a pole is extremely expensive, but reasons to do work at intersections shouldn’t only be tied to the level of carnage. That is, statistically, there haven’t been enough accidents here yet.”
He added the Hwy 10 and 177b Street intersection is the highest volume pedestrian intersection in Cloverdale.
“It can be so dangerous. If you’re in a mobility scooter or a wheelchair, you could get hit by a bus if you’re too close to the corner. And because of the pole, you can’t get out of the way if a bus or trailer’s rear wheels come up on the curb, which they often do.”
Orazietti is also a director with the Surrey Association for Community Living (SACL). He said a number of people with SACL have told him they’ve had terrible experiences at the intersection.
Orazietti said the inaction on the 177B intersection is a microcosm of, what is for him, a bigger problem. He’s tried to get work completed on sidewalks, lighting, and other elements of civic infrastructure, but he said it can take years just to get simple things done.
“When you don’t see people coming to town to help you, it can be frustrating,” he added. “One counsellor did come to town and motivated me enough to say, ‘you know what, you can make a difference. And when times get hard, you really should be out there.’ And she was right.”
Orazietti said if elected, he’ll take a simple approach.
“My goal, obviously, would be to improve the City of Surrey’s work and interaction with local businesses and citizens.”
He said because of his position with the BIA, he has strong relationships with people in Cloverdale, Clayton Heights, and Campbell Heights.
“In many respects, I’d be more like a ward representative,” said Orazietti. “Some of my interests are to continue to embellish the town center, but also, more importantly, the Fairgrounds.”
Orazietti said, if elected, he’s going to advocate for an overhaul of the Fairground that will lead to more integration of the space into the daily lives of Cloverdalians. He wants walking trails and landscaping added, more trees, maybe some more sporting fields—such as diamonds, and a roof on the Bill Reid Amphitheatre.
He’ll also work on getting the Stetson Bowl replaced.
“If you put in a facility with a roof on it, suddenly you have something you can use year round and suddenly you can make a lot more revenue.”
Orazietti said, if elected, he’d be all over social media to gauge community support and thoughts on different topics. He said he’s had great dialogue with members of the community over the past few years via social media.
“When you bring these elements up on social media, people react to them,” he said. “That, I think, is the future of the way people will govern because people want quicker reaction times. And they want to interact. And they want to develop relationships. And you’ll know very well when they’re not happy about certain topics.”
Orazietti added politics has been on his mind for a long time and he’s excited for the election, win or lose.
“I had been spending years toying with the thought of it, working with Bill Reid, he was my mentor,” he said. “I never had enough confidence to do it, but I had the idea that it would be meaningful. So a lot of this I dedicate to him because he brought people together.”