Surrey Coun. Allison Patton said she was not planning to launch a campaign for the amalgamation of White Rock and Surrey.
But now that the subject has been raised, she said she’d like to see further study of the idea, and the economic potential for both cities – although, as yet, there is no task force assigned to the idea and no timeline for developing it.
Patton spoke to Peace Arch News last week after commenting – in an interview with a television reporter on provincial approval of Surrey’s bid to create its own police force – that she wants to see the two cities amalgamate.
The two were historically combined until 1957 when White Rock – formerly Ward 7 of the then-municipality of Surrey – petitioned the provincial government to become its own city.
The idea of re-amalgamating surfaces periodically in discussions about the viability of White Rock’s economic future.
But after mentioning it in passing, Patton said she was surprised by the number of calls and emails she had received supporting her position.
“I’ve had calls from some former City of White Rock employees and other individuals who’ve given me information that is helpful on how to proceed with this,” she said.
Although she said she had no formal plans to spearhead the idea she said she has been “encouraged to do so.”
“So I guess I will do that – I’ll explore that and talk to people who can help,” she added.
“It was something that hit me – it came to me last fall. I was busy with the election at the time, so I just put it in my back pocket.”
“It’s been getting stronger over the last couple of months, after getting involved with (Surrey’s) economic development committee.
“I get the sense that the time is right for us to connect back together so that White Rock can benefit.
“There are so many businesses and exciting opportunities coming to us (in Surrey).”
Patton, a naturopathic physician and owner of the Mountainview Wellness Centre, said that, since her election, she hasn’t talked about the idea, although she had “mentioned it in public, here and there.”
“It’s not like I started a strategy, or had meetings about it,” she said.
“We’ve had some other major issues we’ve been working with – primarily getting a Surrey police force – but now it has the green light, we can’t get our hands in a lot of that.
“So it’s a (chance) to work on other things.”
Patton added that she is excited to look for “positives” in a potential amalgamation scenario which “both sides benefit.”
“I think it’s worth pursuing.”
Patton said that while she believes the “tax base isn’t there” to support White Rock as a separate city, she anticipates the Semiahmoo Peninsula would retain its individuality as a community, even were the two cities to amalgamate.
“In Surrey we’re used to having smaller centres that are an important part of the whole city,” she said.
“South Surrey and White Rock is one community, but what is frustrating is it feels like it is separated,” she added, noting that her perspective is as a 20-year resident and business-owner on the peninsula.
Patton said that while she is keen to look at the options, she recognizes that amalgamation will require the co-operation of a lot of parties.
“There are a lot of protocols around how and when something like this is done and all that will have to be explored,” she said.
”It has to come from people who want it – and the province has to agree to it.
“A lot of stars will have to align.”
White Rock mayor Darryl Walker could not be reached for comment in time for PAN’s press deadline.