Surrey’s Mayor Brenda Locke and councillors Linda Annis, Harry Bains, Mike Bose, Doug Elford, Gordon Hepner, Pardeep Kooner, Mandeep Nagra and Rob Stutt were sworn in Monday night during a special ceremony inside a packed council chambers at city hall.
The hour-long ceremony, launching the first of four years’ worth of meetings under the new council, began with the new council being ushered in with an honour guard and bagpiper, after which council members took their oath of office and Locke delivered her inaugural address. This was followed by a brief regular council meeting.
“My pledge to the people of Surrey is that for the next four years you will have a council that will listen to you, respect diverse viewpoints and most importantly, work for you every step of the way,” Locke said to applause.
She said she’s honoured and humbled to be elected as mayor of “this absolutely amazing city.
“I’m so excited to see where we’re going to be in the coming four years,” Locke said, adding the work ahead is substantial but not insurmountable.
“How we do that work will be different than in the past. Surrey, you can count on me and our council to listen respectfully to differing points of view and welcome public input,” she said. “I love this city, and I believe we are a city full of promise, a city that is built for families, a city where everyone matters.”
She said Surrey residents can count on a city council that is transparent, accountable and ethical.
“That is why we are bring back the Office of the Ethics Commissioner. Restoring the office will help protect the integrity of the city and give residents a sense that there is oversight in decision-making.”
Locke said the “uncertainty of policing in Surrey will come to an end. Surrey’s RCMP has and will continue to be the police of jurisdiction of this city,” she said to applause. “One of the first orders of business for council is to receive a staff report highlighting the process for maintaining the RCMP in Surrey.”
Once completed, the mayor said, the report will be sent to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth for his review “but it won’t be business as usual – a police board and a public safety board will be established to provide real community input into the challenges of policing our city.”
Locke said she wants the “men and women of the Surrey Police Service to know that this report will be people-centric and SPS officers and civilian staff will be cared for. It has been no secret that Surrey has been in dire need of more police officers and that shortfall will be made up starting now, starting with you.”
The procession was led by bagpiper Wes Eaton, a retired Surrey firefighter, accompanied by RCMP in Red Serge, Surrey Fire Fighters’ Honor Guard, and Surrey Bylaws officers. Surrey Police Service did not participate in the procession. Joanne Charles, of Semiahmoo First Nation, provided an Indigenous welcome and Karishma Deo sang O Canada.
Judge Valli Chettiar administered the oath.
Locke said the city will also invest in fire service personnel. “Public safety is important to our future and a vision and a priority for this council.” The demand for affordable housing has never been greater, she added. “Certainly we can and will cut red tape and improve efficiencies in the building permit process. And when it comes to funding, I can guarantee you that I will be building better relationships with the provincial and federal governments so that Surrey gets its fair share of housing investment dollars. In fact, those discussions have already begun.”
Surrey’s new mayor said she commits to a “respectful and honoured relationship” with First Nations people, and looks forward to working with the Surrey Board of Trade and BIAs as “integral partners of developing a vibrant future.”
“You can also count on me to expand our transit options in Surrey,” she said. “From more buses to new rapid bus routes, this council will take action to work for immediate relief for our citizens who spend far too much time on the roads.”
Locke said Surrey residents “will have a say” on the city’s financial plans. “We want to hear from you on how your tax dollars should be used. We will be holding public consultation meetings in your town centres to hear from you on how you want your tax dollars to be used.”
Young people, she added, “want and will have a strong voice on civic matters.” And as for the environment, Locke said, “we will proactively consider our environment and climate change and embrace the awareness that our environment has the innate ability to shift our quality of lives.”
After the ceremony, council appointed six directors to the 2023 Metro Vancouver Regional District Board of Directors and appointed alternate directors on a rotating basis to cover when appointed directors aren’t able to attend board meetings.
Locke was appointed a director with five votes, as were Surrey Connect councillors Hepner, Bains, Stutt, Kooner, and Surrey First Coun. Linda Annis was also appointed with five votes.
Bose and Elford were appointed as alternates. Nagra was shut out.