As #SurreyBC Gears Up For The Next Mayoral Race, Here Are Some Things To Think About Before You Vote

Surrey, British Columbia has been in a constant state of evolution and change since I moved here when I was nineteen or so.

There’s never been a time when Surrey developers – or outsiders mostly – haven’t been building something. It didn’t start with the boat of a library, which looks kind of cool but also weird because the only water we have is the Fraser River, and that’s more like death’s secret laboratory than it is a river.

Then came the other boat along King George by the station, and then came the giant gun, right in the heart of the city, sitting by city hall, pointed straight up at the house of the thing we call God.

Now, there’s only 1 other building I’ve been able to find, and it’s in NYC. I don’t know if the same designers built the one in NYC, but I do know it’s a fucking cool building, it’s also…kind of depressing, given the economic status in Surrey, as well as the number of houseless folks, and the number of youth rapidly getting involved with gangs across the country.

It’s a sad statement on our city, and on who we are as a people, that the most ironically beautiful building in the city is shaped like a gun. We also have several buildings shaped like upside-down heroine needles, now I don’t know if the architects did this deliberately, or if they thought it was funny, or maybe it was a Ted Mosby situation and they just didn’t notice, but nonetheless, it’s fucking gross.

This city with all its needs is getting a Skytrain expansion which I think is great. I’d be much more likely to go out to Langley or Abbotsford if I could just jump out on the train, and I’d like to explore more of the lower mainland, so I’m personally looking forward to that.

I DO think they need to look at ways to protect people from jumping or falling in front of trains before they get to the station. It happens, we don’t talk about it often, we call it an “emergency,” but it happens, and I think some kind of gate in front of the train would work really well – yes expensive – but worth it if it saved lives.

With the Skytrain update however comes more traffic congestion and a longer commute to work for folks, so that’s also something to think about.

The Chuck Bailey Recreation center is getting a massive trillion (exaggeration) dollar upgrade, but that part pisses me off because it doesn’t even need it?

I mean it barely gets used now, many of the programs they promised when they built the fucking thing for the Olympics never happened, and the promises they made about using it for the Olympics never even happened either. It wasn’t used during that time at all and I know this because I was there when they decided which parts of the city would be used and which wouldn’t.

I’ve been there for events in the past, and they don’t exactly have a HUGE community of supporters, so I really don’t see the purpose of spending millions on an upgrade when they barely use what they have now. So to me, it seems like a waste, but maybe you’re a community member who has a family who goes there often, whatever.

There are lots of different people running for mayor so far that have announced themselves, and while I’ve personally chosen to endorse Jinny Sims, and stand by that decision, there might be someone else that you think will be best for the job.

Personally, as a person of colour, I do want someone who is more integrated into the coloured folk community across BC and the lower mainland especially. I want someone who understands the different concerns of our Asian, Black, Indigenous, Jewish, Indian, and Somalian among others, folks. I want people to understand that when I vote for mayor, I’m looking for someone who is genuinely seeing the issues with the city’s problems and finds solutions.

That means someone who can work well in a team – Doug McCallum has shown us what it looks like when you can’t work with a team of people for the betterment of the city, but instead what it looks like when you are someone who is so ego-driven, that your only focus is on creating a legacy for yourself, instead of all of your neighbours.

Each of us has to vote the way that feels right to our hearts, but we also have to think about the community we live in and what we want for the future. Dianne Watts had a plan for the future that absolutely included development and growth, but it wasn’t for the benefit of the city.

I know this because on the day I went out this week to run some errands I saw so many people living in the lowest sector of poverty. There are very few programs they have access to because of funding, because of staffing, and for a variety of reasons that often involve the people who need the help most, are the same ones not getting it.

As a woman, to my mind at least, Jinny Sims understands the fears that women in Surrey have of walking alone at night. As an Indian woman, Jinny understands deeply many of the concerns of my Indian sisters and cousins, friends, and allies, and that means that their voices will be heard as well.

As a constant in this community, whether you’ve personally seen it or not, I have seen Jinny Sims do everything from washing dishes to helping to serve meals and having genuine conversations with some of the most marginalized folks in the city.

So when you go to the polls ignore what you’ve heard, and focus on what you’ve seen.

  • What can this person do for the city?
  • How will this person as mayor benefit my family, friends, and neighbours?
  • What can I do to help further their agenda so it more aligns with mine?

Just some of the questions you should be asking yourself before you vote, which means reading the paper and doing all the research you can. I know why I won’t be voting for other people, but to keep it fair I’ll be keeping those reasons to myself.

Good luck to whomever wins,

Sending all my love,

Devon J Hall


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