Thank you Surrey, for four wonderful years as City Councillor! ~ Mike Starchuk
Raised and educated in Surrey, I have lived here most of my life. I started my career in public service, as a volunteer firefighter in 1980, which then led to an amazing 32 years of service as a professional Surrey firefighter. The most fulfilling part of that career was as a founding director of the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society. This charitable society continues to be one of the top charitable organizations in our City. I retired in 2014, as Surrey’s Chief Fire Prevention Officer, to pursue a challenging second career, as a City Councillor, and was elected that same year.
I am Chair of the city’s Agricultural Food Security Advisory Committee, the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee, Diversity Advisory Committee, as well as vice chair of the Seniors Advisory Committee and City Liaison to Tourism Surrey. I was also appointed to the mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention and appointed to a Cannabis Task Group to prepare for the changes in the federal legislation in October. We traveled to Seattle, Portland, Denver and Los Angeles to look at best practices and lessons learned, which has led to the most comprehensive strategic framework in our country.
In my time at Surrey City Hall, I have always accommodated meetings with members of our community, either at City Hall or in their neighbourhoods. I believe this has made me the most accessible Surrey Councillor. I have been invited to meet with all of the neighbourhood associations. We met to discuss their local issues, where I listened and informed them of what is current in the rest of the City.
I have offered my connections to organizations and individuals to make differences. One example, involved the 2018 Cloverdale Rodeo. As the Chair of the City’s Diversity Advisory Committee, I often run into service providers looking for assistance. DiverseCity had a table set up at an event in City Hall, where I approached them and asked if they could use some passes to the Rodeo. What happened next was one of those “pay it forward” moments.
Through the help of staff, I was able to arrange passes for 20 people, two for DiverseCity staff, and 18 for their clients, giving them the opportunity to experience their “first rodeo”. They had access to the grounds, rodeo and midway rides. When they arrived I had the pleasure of meeting with these young adults from around the world. They had come to Canada for a better life and had ended up in Surrey. Sitting next to a young woman from Syria, she explained how she loved our City and her experiences here.
Part way through the conversation, I could see that she was alarmed by the screams from the midway rides. She interpreted the screams as sounds of distress, rather than the exhilaration of the rides. She was put at ease, somewhat, by my explanation that these screams were similar to those screams from scary movies. No one was being harmed.
Shortly after we said our goodbyes, I ran into the group as they were enjoying the midway. This young woman was on a looping ride, head down, eyes closed and hands holding on to the bar, white knuckled. When she walked down the stairway all I could see was a big smile and wide eyes. She was exhilarated. She was ready to do it again! I’m happy to be a connector and will never forget how I felt, sharing in their experience.
As the Chair of the Agricultural Committee I am pleased to be a part of the promotion and education of our Agricultural community where we now have a stand-alone Agriculture Week to celebrate everything local and fresh. We now have “Pie in the Plaza” where we showcase agriculture and provide a free family event that includes BC’s largest blueberry pie.
Part of Agriculture Week is farm-to-table dining on Sundays in September. I met with our local restaurant owners and chefs to come up with the concept of two-thirds of the menu ingredients coming from within the boundaries of Surrey. This September program has become so successful that one of the restaurants in South Surrey (Tap) has a set menu where nearly 90% of the menu ingredients come from Surrey. It was so successful, they extend that menu into October because their patrons so enjoyed dining on fresh local products.
There is crossover between some of the committees I chair. One such instance is that of the Diversity and Environmental committees. My connections have led to the “Foam Free Vaisakhi” program where a grassroots group was able to divert more than 100,000 pieces of styrofoam from our landfills this year. This program is expected to grow to over one million pieces of non-polystyrene kept out of our landfills.
The same approach was used at the 2018 Fusion Fest. With the environmental success of the “Foam Free Vaisakhi” pilot, the same principles were applied to Fusion Fest. I’m pleased to say 100% of the items used by the food vendors were either biodegradable or recyclable. As close to zero waste as possible, at a time when the public is asking us to think more about Mother Earth.
It has been a privilege representing the Citizens and City of Surrey, on Council, for the last four years. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to bring fresh and new ideas forward, and I hope on October 20th, you will cast your vote for me, so I may continue to represent the City I love; the City I have called home for over 50 years; the City I work, live and play in.
It took about 60 minutes to donate blood this afternoon.
I found out today… from Nancy… that it can take less time if you fill out the questionnaire on line and bring in your bar code to your appointment.
So before we get to our BC Day long weekend, book your appointment at https://myaccount.blood.ca/en/donate, fill out your questionnaire online, and come in.
You have the power to give life by donating blood.
An open thank you to all of those who have helped me. Because of Elections BC regulations, we aren’t allowed to be ‘social’ on Social Media tomorrow… but please don’t think, because this account suddenly goes silent, that we aren’t out there, trying to earn every last vote.
I appreciate all the LIKES, SHARES, and wonderful comments of support we’ve received throughout the campaign! They mean SO much to me and my team. On Election Day, please remember to contact your friends, family and neighbours, and remind them how important it is to vote.
A few shout-outs before the silence of Social Media becomes the regulatory requirement.
I want to thank all of you that I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with over the last few months. I have to let you all know that regardless of the support (one way or another) I have grown from this experience. I hope the voters of Surrey give me the opportunity to use this experience.
I want to thank “Mike’s Campaign” team for all of their hard work and their persistence to keep me moving forward. They have been there at a moment’s notice for tasks that we wanted and needed to be done. These are the people that I am proud to call friends and will cherish taking this journey with them.
To my fellow firefighters. Words will never describe my thanks for your efforts to get me noticed. Yes. I know I did some of that on my own, but my IAFF Brothers and Sisters efforts have surpassed my wildest dreams. Together we have made firefighting synonymous with public safety, as it should be. I am truly proud to be a member of the IAFF and will never forget a somewhat copied phrase I have used from many years ago and plan to continue to use, “membership has its privileges” and I’m privileged and honoured to be a member.
Lastly, to my family. They have seen the highs and lows of this campaign and offered nothing other than words of praise (sprinkled with a few swift kicks in the butt) during the past months. They understand the pressures I have been under and I couldn’t have done this without their support. Love you all!
Consider this a “good luck” chain letter and consider calling 10 people and letting them know that the Surrey First TEAM is the best choice for all of Surrey and you get great luck! Add the Surrey First Education team and you get super great luck!
With 35 days before the Municipal election, November 15th, I’d like to take a moment and thank ALL of you who are assisting me and my TEAM, with OUR election campaign.
There are many parts to a good team and I have the “best parts” helping me along the way. Whether it is canvassing, calling, posting, liking, re-tweeting, writing, packaging, building, erecting signs or just showing up… I’m thankful for all of your assistance and words of encouragement.
Focusing on the end goal is much easier when OUR volunteers in the campaign are as helpful as you all are, and I appreciate this greatly.
Thank you, and enjoy the Thanksgiving long weekend!
(Below are a few pictures from today’s voter meet & greet at Guildford Town Centre with Mike & Vera LeFranc, as well as a few from Newton Athletic Park. Click on any image to open them in a pop-up viewer.)
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and Friday, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. It is also the 2nd Annual “Light Up The World Purple” day to recognize the importance of mental health wellness and the de-stigmatization of the issues that surround mental illness.
Wikipedia says over 25% of people ages 18 and older – about one in four adults – suffer from a diagnosable mental health issue in any given year. The stigma surrounding mental illness is a major barrier that prevents many people from seeking the mental health treatment they need.
Amanda Todd was a teen in Port Coquitlam, BC, who, after many years of bullying and cyber-abuse, on October 10, 2012, lost her battle against depression and the mental health issues that beset her. For Amanda, and others like her, the online harassment and bullying can greatly contribute to spiraling decline into hopelessness with dire consequences. The feeling of isolation that these victims face is overwhelming, but as the statistics above bear out, they are by no means alone.
Light Up Purple
In honour of Amanda Todd – and in acknowledgement of all those who face this adversity every day – on World Mental Health Day, we are “Lighting Up Purple”. On Friday, my website background and Social Media avatars will be purple, and I’ll be tweeting the hashtag #LightUpPurple.
Please join me in showing your support and bringing attention to mental health, its major effects on peoples’ lives worldwide. Join the discussion, and help remove the stigma from receiving and discussing mental health care.
For more information on Amanda’s story and to find out ways that YOU can “Stay Strong”, please visit: AmandaToddLegacy.org/
Follow Carol Todd (Amanda’s Mom) on Twitter, at @C_Todd
Follow the Amanda Todd Legacy Society on Twitter, at @AToddLegacy
There is also great information against cyber-bullying on Twitter, at @SSCyberbullying
In Surrey, you can find contact information for the Fraser Health Services.