Board of Trade doubts mayor’s timelines for police and SkyTrain

By May 8, 2019News

Mayor Doug McCallum’s timelines for SkyTrain and the switch to a municipal police force are too optimistic, according to the CEO of Surrey’s Board of Trade.

McCallum told a crowd of about 250 Tuesday that SkyTrain construction would begin in 2021 and a municipal police force would be patrolling Surrey streets by July, next year.

Anita Huberman told Pulse FM Tuesday that there’s no way those timelines can be met.

“I think that’s unrealistic those timelines that were indicated,” Huberman told Pulse FM in an interview. She acknowledged that the mayor’s council will be reviewing the Skytrain proposal in July, but like all infrastructure developments, she says, it will take time.

As to the police, she said the province will be taking significant time to review the city’s proposal.

“We met with Minister (of Public Safety Mike) Farnworth in early April, and I know he’s going to give a long considered thoughtful approach when he receives the city’s policing proposal. So, it’s not going to be an automatic, quick decision.”

She said the Surrey Board of Trade will continue to push for public consultation on the policing switch, as are some Surrey councillors.

She was listening for business-related announcements at the State of the City Address and said she didn’t hear much.

“I didn’t hear a specific economic development strategy for Surrey,” Huberman said. “As a business organization for Surrey, the Surrey Board of Trade is looking for a plan that is collaborative, consultative, that is cross-industry focused… “

There was opportunity to discuss some business strategies, but that opportunity was not seized, she said.

“I heard some mention of clean tech businesses moving in, the Wal-Mart warehousing facility in Campbell Heights,” Huberman said. “Of course I heard about transportation and public safety, which could be strategized and communicated as an economic development plan,  but that certainly wasn’t what I heard.”

The Surrey Board of Trade has taken the city to task on several issues of late, and for the first State of the City, they were not asked to host it.

In fact, Huberman was not on the invitation list, and attended as someone’s guest.

She asked for a meeting with the mayor two weeks ago to speak on several issues, and heard Tuesday he will meet with her on June 25.

She said no matter how this works out, she will train her focus on supporting business in Surrey and bringing new ones in.

“I’m doing my job as an independent voice of business,” Huberman said.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum declined to comment on Huberman’s claims.