Surrey Councillor Steven Pettigrew made a case for the city’s poor at the Feb. 10 council meeting, saying he would rather see $5,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on helping these than forking it over to the Annual Simon Fraser University President’s Surrey Gala.
“I’m having great difficulties trying to support something where we’re giving $5,000 so many of us can go and have just a wonderful time and dress up and eat lots of food, yet we walk among people that are just struggling, and sleeping on the street,” Pettigrew said.
He was the lone council member to vote against the City of Surrey providing a $5,000 contribution in support of the gala, and authorization of buying additional tickets at $175 each, over and above four complimentary tickets, “as necessary for members of council who are planning to attend this event.”
Pettigrew said that while he’s a “supporter” of SFU, as he drives in to work he sees people sleeping in doorways, “and I see people begging on the streets, and I’ve encountered many, many social and community organizations that are in desperate need of help, and they’ve come to the city for help and they’ve been turned down. We need to take care of the people that are hurting, and help those organizations that are in real need of support,” Pettigrew said, adding he would rather see the cash used for such causes.
The gala is to be held Feb. 28 in the Weststone Grand Hall at SFU’s Surrey Campus.
According to a report by Kam Grewal, Surrey’s general manager of finance, the annual event brings together more than 300 business, government and community leaders “from across the region to celebrate and support the growth and development of academic and research opportunities in Surrey.”
His report indicates that with the $5,000 silver-level sponsorship “the mayor or a designate will be able to provide on stage remarks” and get a “complimentary seat at the head table.”
Grewal noted the gala, with its themes of inclusion, education and culture, “supports the overall objectives” of the City’s Sustainability Charter 2.0.
Such a grant, Grewal reported, supports “Desired Outcomes” under the city’s Sustainability Charter 2.0, one of which is that “Surrey is a caring and compassionate city that learns about and supports its residents of all backgrounds, demographics and life experiences.”