City of Surrey – Mike Starchuk Candidate Interview

The City of Surrey interviewed and made videos with each candidate. Here is my candidate interview:

My plan for Surrey:

The issues that motivated me to get involved are the following:

  • Our seniors’ programs
  • Recovery houses
  • Secondary suites and the associated problems

Seniors’ Programs:

I had sat on the Seniors Advisory and Accessibility Committee (SAAC) since February of 2013 as the Fire Department liaison. This group has provided forums across the city in different locations and presentations were made in different languages, that suit the different communities. These forums presented sessions that ranged from personal safety, fire safety, finance, wills and Senior’s abuse and neglect.

My goal is to ensure the positive results this committee produces continue as our senior population grows in the City. We need to ensure our seniors have access to resources to keep them active physically and socially.

Recovery Houses:

In the last 2 years the provincial government, specifically from the Ministry of Health, the Assisted Living Registry (ALR) office has become re-involved with recovery houses. Currently, for a recovery house operate in the City of Surrey the house must pass an inspection from the City of Surrey Fire Department and must be registered by the ALR.

There is only one person in the City of Surrey that has been inside all of the known recovery houses and I’m that person. I can tell you 60 to 70 percent of the recovery houses are not registered with the ALR. These are the homes the public is seeing in the news as recovery houses but in fact they are more related to boarding houses or as some reference them, “crack shacks.”

We need to create a dedicated team between the Fire Department and By-Laws that can work with the ALR and ensure these houses are fire safe and more importantly, safe for the community. We have the tools for enforcement; we need to have the people to use the tools.

Secondary Suites:

In the case of secondary suites, where it is not a rooming house, 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 were not enforced and/or silent in some areas.

With additional people living in a residential home there is a greater burden on the City’s infrastructure and services. Suites built without permit also contain potential safety problems that could lead to serious injury or death. We need to use our City’s agencies to ensure these suites are safe for the tenants.

My Background:

I have been a resident of the city for 50 years and have just concluded 32 years of service with the City of Surrey Fire Department, retiring July 31st of this year. Having raised two athletic children in the City and working with the City of Surrey Fire Department has given me a unique perspective on the needs of the people in the city.

Over the past year and a half, as the City’s Chief Fire Prevention Officer, I have worked with our RCMP, our building, planning and electrical departments (to name a few) at City Hall and our City of Surrey By-Laws. I have a keen understanding of how our City works and how the City interacts with the public and our businesses.

Working with the Fire Department and the Firefighters’ Union with our charitable society (as a founding Director) has given me first-hand knowledge of where the City’s most vulnerable are and what their needs are. I served for 18 years as a Tournament Director for the Variety Club Racquetball Tournament, raising funds for BC’s kids. I also served on the Board of Directors for Kennedy Surrey Little League (KSLL) during the time where they were three time Little League national champions. In 2013, because of my work with, and dedication to, the City of Surrey, I was honoured to be awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

My time spent with these various organizations, provided me with the opportunities to develop working relationships with all levels of government. I have worked with our MPs, our MLAs and our past and present City Councils as a member of the Surrey Fire Fighter’s Association. I have worked with WorkSafeBC and provided input that was considered and adopted with regards to cancer presumptions for our firefighters.

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