ZYTARUK: Surrey council talks a good game about listening, but will it walk the talk?

I guess we have the next four years to find out, but Monday night should give us a pretty good idea

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So let it be written…

You can fight city hall and win.

But this, of course, depends on who’s listening – or not.

Consider the wonderful story of Dane Best, a nine-year-old boy from Colorado who, on Dec. 3, stood up tall in front of his town council and persuaded the politicians to toss out a law prohibiting snowball fights in Severance, the community where he lives and attends Grade 3 at Range View Elementary School.

Bus drivers, maybe school principals and perhaps the grim old curmudgeon down the street might not be so happy about this century-old ban being lifted. Or maybe they are.

But I think it’s marvelous how this young fellow had the spine to see this through.

It happened 2,235 kilometres away, but we’ve also had people here in Surrey who’ve scored a win for the community by taking on city hall. Consider the story of James Perry. I won’t say it’s wonderful, because it began with his young son Cole being badly injured by a speeding car that hit him while he was playing street hockey with his buddies in Fraser Heights.

READ ALSO: Persistent father of injured boy finally sees speed humps built on Surrey street

But what happened after that was wonderful indeed. After two years of relentless lobbying, a fight Perry faithfully fought despite encountering dogged resistance, he got the City of Surrey to build speed bumps on his street, forcing motorists to slow down and thereby making it safer for young and old residents alike.

That was a little over a year ago. On Tuesday night, Perry was among residents who bent city council’s ear, at the finance committee meeting at city hall, concerning some controversial aspects of its first draft budget. The plan, which is up for a vote before council proper next Monday, calls for the postponement of the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex, among other projects.

The finance committee – comprised of council itself – decided in a five-four vote to send the five-year capital budget to next Monday’s council meeting for further consideration, with Councillors Linda Annis, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and Steven Pettigrew voting against.

READ ALSO OUR VIEW: LRT offers Surrey’s next council a lesson on listening

READ ALSO: In split vote, Surrey council gives early nod to draft budget

This is a critical test case for this new council.

Pettigrew’s road to getting elected was paved by his I might say valiant fight against the previous Surrey First-dominated council’s unwavering determination to see a road pushed through Hawthorne Park.

He was still embroiled in this struggle less than a year ago, and now, is no longer behind the petitioner’s mic but instead sitting on the decision-making side of the council table.

Doug McCallum came out of the proverbial woodwork in August 2017 to lend his support to Pettigrew and his crew in the Hawthorne road battle.

Speaking of roads, let’s take a trip down memory lane, to July 18, 2018, the day my story entitled “Doug McCallum, Tom Gill already squaring off in Surrey mayoral race” was published, containing this:

“McCallum charged Surrey First ignored community opposition to light rail and opposition to developing a road through Hawthorne Park. He added “the public was in an uproar” when Gill supported a development on the Little Campbell River.

“He hasn’t listened to the community at all.”

READ ALSO: Doug McCallum, Tom Gill already squaring off in Surrey mayoral race

McCallum and Safe Surrey undoubtedly benefited at the polls from the infamy his Surrey First rivals drew upon themselves for not listening to Surrey’s residents.

“Good government comes from having a clear focus on priorities that are important to the citizens,” reads a statement attributed to McCallum, in a pre-election Safe Surrey Coalition press release dated Sept. 25.

Will Doug McCallum and his coalition be good listeners?

I guess we have the next four years to find out, but this coming Monday night should give us a pretty good idea.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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