Surrey: Councillor Linda Annis says the combined cost of cancelling LRT and transitioning to a local police force now adds up to $168 million. It’s a number so large that Surrey could have hired 60 new RCMP officers, added 13 new firefighters and a fully-equipped med engine in Whalley, built a new Cloverdale ice arena, and created a new library and community centre in Grandview Heights with money to spare.
“Cancelling LRT in favour of SkyTrain cost us $39 million with nothing to show for it, and the budget so far for police transition is $129 million, and I suspect it will grow even more when the real numbers are public,” explained Annis. “That’s $168 million that could have really made a difference in our city, and it’s something all of us should be concerned about.
“The new SkyTrain project adds up to just four new stations and only gets us to 166th Street, not even close to the growing neighbourhoods in Cloverdale and Clayton, and the police transition costs won’t deliver a single new officer. In fact, the mayor’s police plan adds up to fewer officers than we have today. These are our tax dollars and frankly we’re not getting value for money from the mayor and his four remaining councillors. By any measure, $168 million is a big number, and when I see what we could have done with it to make our city better, I feel as though the mayor’s priorities are wrong and incredibly costly.”
Annis said mayor and council have an obligation to “spend scarce tax dollars” wisely.
“Surrey taxpayers are counting on us to get the best possible value for every tax dollar they send to city hall,” added Annis. “This $168 million isn’t doing anything to make our city safer or more livable, every one of those dollars goes straight to the bottom line as a cost, with nothing to show for it. None of us would spend our own money that way. We could have done a lot for Surrey with that money, but it certainly doesn’t look or feel that way today.”