Doug McCallum has come out in opposition to cannabis retail locations in Surrey, two days before it becomes legal.
Two of the main points to legalizing cannabis was to ensure the product was safe for consumption. No cross contamination and an understanding where it’s origins are. The other is to regulate the sales so our youth do not have access in a similar manner to the sales of alcohol.
This is achieved by locating retail cannabis storefronts specified distances away from schools, parks and other locations where those under 19 may congregate. As well, to set distances between retail locations, to fit into the communities.
Doug McCallum’s opposition to retail cannabis stores, two days before the consumption of cannabis becomes legal in Canada, is astonishing. The only winners in his solution are those in organized crime and the losers are the youth we should be protecting and the adult consumers who are looking for a safe product.
The moral issue of cannabis was settled a few years ago when the federal government started the legalization process. Now Doug wants to impart his morals on you. Think about this October 20, when you head to the polls and who is really looking out for the public’s best interests.
On September 18th, Surrey First announced an expansion of initiatives to support children with autism.
For children coping with autism, finding a place to ‘feel at home’, can be a challenge.
Surrey First wants to help the 1600 Surrey children with Autism, and their families.
Here is a link to a Surrey Now-Leader news article, with details on the plan.
From left to right: Katy Harandi (president of the Canuck’s Autism Network), Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill, and Dawn McKenna (executive director of the Pacific Autism Family Network) at a press conference announcing that if elected, Surrey First will expand city efforts to make kids with autism “feel at home.”
Thank you for showing interest and taking the time to come to my website.
On November 15th, it will be time to exercise your right to vote. Everyone needs to be well informed on who will do the best job for those who live, work and play in Surrey. Make sure you are voting for someone who can deliver on their promises. As a Surrey First Councillor I will deliver on all of the issues I have put forward during the election campaign.
Recovery Houses need to be supported and registered. Those that are not, will need to be shut down. There is only one person in the City of Surrey that has been in ALL of the recovery houses and that is ME.
We don’t need 24 additional By-Law Enforcement Officers, as some claim. We need City Hall to follow through and implement plans and recommendations I made as Chief Fire Prevention Officer.
Secondary Suites need to be identified and inspected on a regular basis, to ensure the safety of those who live there, and to ensure the property owners are paying their fair share to the City for the services they receive. Surrey First has a plan to deal with all of the issues that surround secondary suites in a prompt way.
I want to ensure the work done by our Seniors’ Advisory and Accessibility Committee (SAAC) continues to grow with our growing seniors population. The Seniors Strategy that was developed with this committee is comprehensive and has short and long term goals. Our seniors are cherished members of our community, and we need to ensure they continue to have access to physically and socially active programs.
Public safety has been in the forefront this election and as a firefighter in our community for 32 years, I know what the firefighters have done for public safety and what they will continue to do. The firefighters know how a sense of community plays a role in keeping our neighbourhoods safe. They know we need to add a public education program with the additional RCMP members that Surrey First had requested. We know that when a person has an incident, they want a well-trained and armed Peace Officer showing up on their doorstep and not “plastic police”.
This election is going to set a path. For those of you in the fire service, remember what our growth was and what our staffing levels were, up to 2005. I started in 1982 and there were four firefighters on an engine. During a time of growth with a tax freeze, we shrunk to three firefighters on an engine, which often resulted in firefighters putting their lives in jeopardy while trying to save the life of another. Freezing taxes and reducing costs by an unexplained 3% only increases risks for those densified areas that required more resources. We can’t let history repeat itself!
Surrey First has the experience that no other slate has. Every member on this team works with both the positive and the negative sides of the City on a daily basis. We don’t speak to what we read or hear, we stand on what we have accomplished.
I want to take my experience and bring that to Council to effect change and make my City even better. I have spent 32 years in the TEAM environment with the Surrey Fire Fighters and this is the next TEAM I want to work with.
So, on November 15th, please get out with your family, friends and neighbours and vote for Mike Starchuk, Linda Hepner and the Surrey First TEAM.
While you are in the voting booth, please also consider casting your School Board votes for the Surrey First Education Team.
Thank you for your consideration!
What Separates Mike Starchuk & Surrey First from the Rest of the Candidates?
During the past three weeks, voters have had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the Councillor candidates and what they stand for. The dialogues and debates provided forums for the voters to hear us. Surrey voters can now go to the polls and cast their votes for those who will keep the City moving in the right direction.
As a new Councillor candidate, I need to ensure that YOU, the voter, are aware of what YOU can count on, when you elect someone to the City of Surrey Council. I have made every effort to connect to as many of you as possible and will continue to do so right up to the close of polls this Saturday. And, if elected as Councillor for the great City of Surrey, will remain available to my constituents on an ongoing basis.
What Makes Mike Stand Out?
You could vote for someone who reads or hears about some of the issues we have in Surrey. Or you can vote for the person who has been dealing with the issues on a first-hand basis, for years.
You can vote for someone who believes changes may be required at City Hall. Or you can vote for someone who has worked with all of the Departments, and knows where improvement can be made.
You can vote for a person who wants to talk about solutions. Or you can vote for someone who has solutions that need to be moved through our Civic process.
We all agree that public safety is a top priority, but what I have heard, is we need to deal with the root problems and restore a sense of community. Having lived in the same location in Newton for the past 24 years, I can vouch for how well our cul-de-sac works, because we know our neighbours, and we watch out for each other.
The other issues that I have a direct working knowledge of, are those surrounding secondary suites and Surrey’s recovery houses. I am confident that Surrey First can improve the process in which we deal with secondary suite issues. Specifically, the matters of multiple illegal suites, safe and affordable living spaces, parking and additional demands for services for the unaccounted residents living in these illegal suites.
Recovery houses are also a hot topic and hiring more By-Law Officers is not the solution. We need to work with the Ministry of Health, the Fire Department and our existing By-Law Officers to ensure compliance with provincial and municipal regulations. We need to also ensure that those seeking recovery are provided a space that is safe and livable, so they can concentrate on their recovery and again becoming a productive member of our City.
A Team With Experience
To achieve these goals and to move forward, you need to have a team. More importantly, you need to have a team with experience.
With my 32 years as a firefighter, I assure you, experience is paramount in making decisions. Without experience, decisions made in the Fire Service could become disastrous. Experience in a team environment, through mentoring and education, produces the most efficient results. Surrey First has a proven track record and has a team with experienced Councillors as well as some new candidates who have experience in the City and want the opportunity to be mentored as they grow in their new roles as Councillors in the City.
Voting For Surrey First
On November 15th, you have the opportunity to vote for a better Surrey. It will be a daunting task when you look at the ballot and see three columns of names and parties to choose from. You will vote for one Mayor from a list of seven names. To fill eight Councillor positions, you will be presented with 35 choices!
Don’t be fooled by the names of those political slates that have chosen their names to mimic the “Surrey First” brand. I have put Surrey FIRST for the last 32 years as a firefighter, and now I’m asking you to vote for the Surrey First TEAM.
Keep Surrey FIRST as the best place in the world to raise a family.
Make Surrey the FIRST place to work and invest in.
Make Surrey the FIRST place to think of, when looking for world class sports facilities and arts and cultural events.
When you are at the polling station on November 15th, please remember to vote for Linda Hepner for Mayor, Mike Starchuk and the entire Surrey First Team for Surrey Council, and the Surrey First Education Team for Surrey School Trustees.
Thank you for your consideration!
Public safety is on the top of everyone’s mind this election and I assure you that the Surrey First team has an excellent plan in place to address today’s needs and requirements, and to proactively look at future public safety needs. In this post, I will conclude my list of ideas and initiatives which I bring to the Surrey First team and hopefully to a seat on Surrey City Council.
Our Senior Citizens
As the Fire Department liaison, I sat on the Seniors’ Advisory and Accessibility Committee (SAAC) from February 2013, until my recent retirement. This Committee is made up of City staff and community groups and advocates who have a passion for ensuring our Seniors have a voice in our City.
Our Seniors are one of the most cherished resources we have in our community. They are our pioneers and historians and they should be respected and honoured for what they have achieved and contributed.
We need to ensure that our Seniors have access to resources to keep them physically and socially active. The SAAC focuses on safety, health and wellness, transportation and mobility, housing, buildings and outdoor spaces, as well as legal issues such as power of attorney, living wills and estate planning.
To educate our Seniors and the public, forums are conducted four to six times a year, in our City facilities. Speakers are invited to deliver short talks on subjects such as personal safety, elder abuse, wills, power of attorney, fire safety and financial abuse, to name just a few.
There are also resource tables set up, that provide informational handouts and other resource information for those in attendance. There are also some light snacks, beverages and a lunch provided for those who are there for these six-hour sessions. The forums are presented in different locations throughout the City and delivered in different languages to suit each community.
In addition to the forums, the Committee has created a successful Community Outreach Program for our Seniors. This program is mobile and delivers two-hour programs in locations for those who are not always able to attend one of our larger forums.
The Committee worked for a number of months with staff and the public in creating an “Age Friendly Strategy”. In May of 2014, the SAAC made a presentation to Council on the results of this work and submitted a 38 page document for their consideration. The document can be found at:
My goal is to ensure the vision of the Committee is preserved and the work continues, as our Senior population continues to grow. I look forward to working with this Committee and the Chair, Councillor Barb Steele, in the years to come.
Secondary suites have multiple issues that need to be addressed. There needs to be a more consistent By-Law developed and applied. Clayton Heights and the Janice Churchill areas are examples of how the By-Laws are not enforced and/or silent. Fortunately the zoning rules that created the issues surrounding coach houses, have been changed to ensure the garage sizes were increased to allow for parking.
With more people living under one roof in a residential home there is a larger demand on the City’s infrastructure and services. While there are fees attached to a residential home with a secondary suite, the communities were not properly designed to handle the additional population and the problems created by the addition of many secondary suites. Our streets, schools, recreational properties and other services were not developed to accommodate the increased population due to homes with multiple suites.
There are five main factors when looking at the issues around secondary suites:
- Number of suites
- Safety for those residing in these suites
- Demand on City resources
The City permits one suite in a house and is taxed at that rate. Additional suites are not permitted, in accordance with our By-Laws, and infractions are rarely enforced.
Parking becomes an issue for the residents who may have mobility issues and for those who need to use the roads for access, including our emergency services.
Affordability refers to the owner of the home who invests in the property, and for the tenant who is looking for a place to reside in the city at an affordable price.
Safety issues can arise when home owners create these suites without a building permit, and therefore are not inspected for safety according to the BC Building Code and BC Fire Code requirements. I am all too familiar with suites that have no egress in the case of a fire and in some cases, no working smoke alarms.
Demand on the roadways, schools, parks and other city services are not easily planned for, without the population numbers of these suites being taken into account.
The City should consider adding to the By-Laws, the requirement of a business licence, at a nominal fee, which verifies there is one suite. The business licence could also address street parking. There should be an incentive for those homeowners to create parking on their property to hold all vehicles respective to that address. The purpose here is to ensure the streets are open enough for all emergency response vehicles, and for homeowners who have visitors from time to time.
If a business license became a requirement, annual inspections from the fire department would be required to ensure general fire safety conditions are being met for those who reside there and the Fire Code is being upheld. Both the Fire Services Act and the City of Surrey Fire By-Laws, permit access to businesses by the fire department for inspections without notice. Homeowners who have suites, in addition to the one permitted, would be required to close the additional suites through a process of attrition. We need to ensure we aren’t displacing those who are in those suites without ample time to find other suitable accommodations.
The ability to offer an incentive for creating off-street parking could alleviate the issue of access for emergency vehicles and for those just trying to navigate the cluttered streets. The next steps could include street parking passes, to motivate the creation of off-street parking spots. This would not affect a low income earner who uses transit but would affect those with multiple illegal suites with vehicles.
I hope these blog posts have provided you with an understanding of who I am, where I came from, and where I want to go.
When you are at the polling station this November, please remember Mike Starchuk and the Surrey First Team.
Last week, at an All Candidates Meeting, in one segment, I used the ‘R’ word, to describe a situation. This was reported by the media. At the event, I immediately and sincerely apologized. This was not reported by the media, but has been confirmed to the reporter, by an independent source.
I’m sorry for using it, and I understand the comments and feedback I have received, especially given that my immediate apology wasn’t publicly reported.
I have worked with various organizations that support people with special needs for many years, and I regret my choice of words, during an intense political debate.
I can’t change this, but I intend on moving forward with my campaign, hoping this regretful choice of words is now behind me.
This is not a reflection on my family, nor those I am running with in this election, so please direct any comments or concerns to me.