‘There is only going to be one door to City Hall and that’s the front door. We all get to go through the same door.’
BY RATTAN MALL
COUNCILLOR-ELECT Brenda Locke of Safe Surrey Coalition this week assured Surrey-ites that when their group gets sworn in on November 5 with Doug McCallum as mayor, “we will be as transparent as we possibly can.”
She added: “All the meetings will be open. I know in the past there were more closed meetings. That is not going to be our style. There is only three reasons for City Hall not to have open door meetings and those are specific … those are around privacy issues.
“But the other thing I would like to say to you is that there is only going to be one door to City Hall and that’s the front door. We all get to go through the same door. We’re supposed to be servants of the people as politicians. There is no side doors. There is no secret doors.
“There is a lobby registry, so if somebody wants to do business with the City, they are supposed to register to do that. And I know for me personally and some of my colleagues I have spoken to about this, we will be looking at that list. Don’t come and ask for meetings. If you want something and you’re not on the list, I can’t see you if you’re not registered.”
Locke garnered more votes than any other councillor in the October 20 municipal election in Surrey – 40,497 votes. The other six councillors of the SSC are Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Jack Singh Hundial, Dr. Allison Patton, Steven Pettigrew and Mandeep Nagra. Surrey First’s Linda Annis is the eighth councillor.
Locke was MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers from 2001 to 2005. She also served as Minister of State for Mental Health and Addiction Service. She has worked for a raft of non-profit agencies as well as businesses.
Locke said that were all excited about the inauguration of the new Council on Monday, adding: “And once that happens, then I think you’ll see a team of people that are really quite diverse. We all have our own attitudes and our own ideas and we are certainly a group of independent thinkers. So what you will NOT see is a group of people that vote together … everybody is very much an individual in our group because we are a coalition and not a political party per se.”
Locke told The VOICE that she and her colleagues ran on a platform of accountability, transparency and fairness.
She added: “And fairness is really important to every one of us because what we’ve seen in the past is a City Hall that is really one for friends and family – and not really fair to every citizen or every developer or anybody who wants to do business in Surrey. And we want fairness – that’s important.”
Here is the rest of the interview:
Would you also be exposing what had happened in the past at City Hall?
LOCKE: I suppose so. We certainly are going to be looking at issues. There were a lot of issues and accusations that came up that were brought to us individually and some through the media – and we thank media for that – that we have to take a hard look at. And if we can put truth to that, absolutely we need to share that information with the public because that is the transparency piece that we said we were going to deliver and we will.
What do the councillors in your coalition feel about the SkyTrain versus LRT issue?
LOCKE: When we signed on to the coalition, there were three issues that Doug raised. One was divesting ourselves of the RCMP, moving to a city police. Another was SkyTrain – not LRT. And so all of us agreed on the SkyTrain plan. I am sure that everybody will be supporting SkyTrain. We’ve absolutely campaigned on that and I can’t see anybody moving away from it. … [The third issue was] pausing development and working through smart development. So that means making sure the infrastructure is there when you are doing development. It doesn’t mean stopping development; it just means making sure that the resources are there for development.
What about the city police force – will that be an issue open to discussion?
LOCKE: This is more complicated than SkyTrain, but everybody also agreed with that. We agreed with the three issues: The RCMP was to change to a city police. I mean it’s still integrated with the RCMP in terms of IHIT [Integrated Homicide Investigation Team] and all the special teams. But in terms of on-the-ground police officers, our plan is to move to a city police. … The [switch to a city] police I am sure is going to be a lot more complicated than the SkyTrain issue.
Any other thoughts?
LOCKE: I want to thank the media. Lots of media did some yeoman’s work on this campaign. They did expose things … that was important that some of those issues got out. I also want to thank the public, whether they voted for me or not, because this time we actually did increase the number of people that got to the polls. The public were really knowledgeable this time. That isn’t usually the case. Right from Day 1 when we started campaigning – and we started campaigning before the writ dropped – people were talking about issues. It wasn’t ‘wait for the last week before the election and everybody flip-flops.’
We knew all along that people were coming with us and they were getting onboard and they were understanding the issues. And I can tell you on SkyTrain, absolutely they got it. The public was very clear. Somewhere between 75 and 78 per cent of the citizens want SkyTrain. So people were engaged in the issues. So that’s really great. They were paying attention.