Selling Off Our Future

There is one very controversial Corporate Report (CR) which will get some attention at Monday night’s (June 15, 2020) Surrey Council meeting.  ‘Corporate Report (CR) R089 COVID-19: Emergency Operations Centre Update‘ identifies how the City has been impacted in all areas and what options there are to consider.  There isn’t any good news in this. The $42 million dollar deficit is clear.  To solve this, there are some very crappy things coming forward and I’ve taken the liberty to cut and paste them here for reference.

Surrey City Council - Corporate Report - $42M Budget Deficit -

General Managers have been tasked with reducing their current expenditures relative to budget and contribute a minimum of $8.0M toward mitigating the budgeted shortfall. This will be done by deferring capital expenditures (no new fire apparatus) use of consulting services, travel & training budgets, and utilization of overtime. Potential $8 million savings.

Most major civic facilities including Parks, Recreation & Culture and Library facilities remain closed until early September and possibly longer. Potential $6 million savings.

Staff are deferring the opening of Clayton Community Center until the first quarter of 2021. Potential $2.5 million in savings.

Cloverdale got shafted with the cancellation of the ice arenas and now this.  Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw Cloverdale, screw Cloverdale!

Vacant positions across all departments will remain unfilled until 2021 with the only exception being critical roles required to deliver essential services. This “gapping” of positions will put additional workload on current staff, service levels to the public will be moderately impacted in the short term; however, this will not be sustainable in the longer term.

Staff is asked to do way more with less and get used to it. Just what staff needs, to be added to the pandemic stressors. Potential savings on the backs of City staff is $2 million. 

Staff are eliminating the general funding associated with the downtown YMCA project, and utilizing these funds as a mitigating measure to minimize the forecasted budget shortfall. Potential $8.3 million savings.

Every aspect of Downtown Surrey with respect to recreation was anchored around the YMCA. The closure of the North Surrey Rec Center was based on a partnership with YMCA and now it’s vanished.  Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw City Centre, screw City Centre.

Staff are differing (sic) the Newton Athletic Fieldhouse project to a future year. This project can be reconsidered as part of the 2021-2025 Capital Budgeting process. Potential $2 million saving.

Staff are eliminating of the budgeted (their words) Newton Urban Park. This project can be reconsidered as part of the 2021-2025 Capital Budgeting process. Potential $1 million saving. 

Can you hear the chants from Mayor and his crew? Screw Newton, screw Newton!

Staff are reducing expenditures related to On-Going Capital for 2020 by $1.0M relative to budget. Although this budget is important for the maintenance and enhancement of city assets, the proposed one-time reduction will result in modest impairment of said city assets, this is not a sustainable option on a long term basis and should be considered a one time usage. Potential $1 million savings.

The big one will be below. They are going to consider reallocation of these reserves to take care of the budget shortfall of $40 million.

 Reduction of Non-Statutory Reserves 

The City maintains various reserves that are utilized to predominantly fund current and future capital requirements, some of these reserves are restricted by legislation (for example, Development Cost Charges) and others are not restricted. Reserve levels for the City have been maintained, however not necessarily at ideal levels due to fiscal limitations we now face. Staff may have to resort to utilize a portion of the following non statutory reserves on a strictly one- time basis to mitigate the forecasted budget shortfall in 2020: 

  1. Green City; 
  2. Corporate Contingency; 
  3. Revenue Stabilization; 
  4. Snow Removal; and 
  5. Equipment Replacement Reserve. 

The value utilized from each non-statutory reserve will be reported to Council in the future, once the actual shortfall is quantified. 

These reserves are at risk. Money from developers for the Green City Fund was paid, for the explicit reasoning to replace the trees removed during the construct of a development.  How is this conscionable to anyone on Council?

What you won’t see in this report is any kind of reduction in the Surrey Police Department transition spending.  Why would, or who would, ever contemplate digging into non-statuary reserves when you have SPD transition money at your fingertips? What is the hurry to move the SPD transition at a time when the planet is going through the most unprecedented pandemic in history?  If there ever was a time in history to press pause, it’s now. Spending on the SPD transition at the cost of all other items make ZERO economic sense.

This type of spending is contrary to everything we see from a Federal and Provincial level. Even Dr. Henry wants people to be recreating more and not less. The cutting of programs and the pillaging of the reserve funds is selling off our future.  This CR clearly states, “the future does not live here.”

All of this will be discussed “virtually” Monday night.  It’s hard to believe that staff cannot configure a 200 seat Council Chambers to accommodate 9 people so we can actually see them all at once.  So, we can be assured there isn’t any influence on the other side of a Zoom screen, so we can actually see their hands raised when voting, so we can see all their faces at once as our future sinks into the sunset.

Open and transparent….NOT!


Click on the link below, to see the full 56 page PDF document, from the City of Surrey website: