GHSA “Virtual” Non-incumbent Council Candidate Forum

City Councillors deal with a wide variety of issues in their position as a community liaison between the residents of their municipality and the City government. Much of the discussion during the Surrey election 2014 has focused on crime, and rightly so. However, land use is also a central topic in many minds because good development,  infrastructure, and environmental stewardship creates sustainable and safe communities. City councillors vote on land use issues routinely and are involved in planning and development initiatives.

Recent articles by Daphne Bramham in the Vancouver Sun and by Amy Reid in The Now have stressed the importance of choosing councillors wisely; its not just all about the Mayoral vote. Since currently-sitting Surrey councillors are already on record about their views about land use and development AND since we really haven’t heard much from non-incumbent council candidates about land use, the GHSA Board decided to hold our own “virtual forum” to ask new council candidates their views on land use and more specifically, land use in Grandview Heights.

To be completely fair and transparent, here is how we conducted our “virtual” forum.

Every non-sitting council candidate was contacted by email on Friday, Oct 31 either by their personal/party email or by the contact form on the City of Surrey website. All but one candidate supplied an email contact on the COS website or had an email address.  We asked each candidate the same question, framed by a statement, and requested their responses by the morning of November 4th.  Although we gave this deadline to give readers more pre-election time to read them, of course, as other replies are emailed, they will be posted as received for a day or two. Some candidates chose to include a bit of general platform information so answered more than our five questions, but because that was their initiative, we have not edited their answers to delete those “extra” statements.  The responses were then converted into a PDF file.

HOW TO USE THIS FORUM

The email request for forum responses we sent to the candidates is below. This includes a “context” section for five questions we asked.

Below our logo are the links to the forum participant’s answers: the name of candidates who responded, in alphabetical order. Click on the name and the linked page will take you to a PDF of their answer which will open in a new window. As always, the GHSA presents this information as a resource for readers to read and form opinion.

THE FORUM QUESTIONS

Dear Candidate,

The Grandview Heights Stewardship Association (http://www.grandviewstewardship.org) is hosting a “virtual forum” to find out more about non-incumbent Council Candidates and their views about Grandview Heights. To be fair and inclusive, we are asking all potential council candidates to participate.

This is your opportunity to share with Grandview Heights/ South Surrey residents your thoughts and principles regarding development planning and environmental sustainability. We view this as a promotional opportunity for you as well as a way for residents in our area to find out what you may bring to Council regarding select land use/sustainability issues of neighbourhood concern.
Please address your reply to the following questions below (no longer than 500-700 words).
Your submission will be posted on our website in a special blog section. Please email your answer to info@grandviewstewardship.org by 9 am Tues Nov 4th to enable responses to be posted asap and viewed well in advance of the election.
Thank you in advance for participating! Our Association feels that the voice of Council is so important and we appreciate your personal commitment to building a better Surrey.

Context
Social research puts great importance on community design and ongoing resident-driven evolution as the major factors in the livability, sustainability, crime level and happiness and health of it’s residents.
Grandview Heights was, and still is, as much-loved as any area in Surrey. Long-time residents treasure Grandview’s forested areas, wildlife, large mature trees, and wooded roadways and pathways. New residents in recent more urban developments tell us they love it for the exact same reasons: that there are still trees, space and character all around them.
Residents are concerned that we are experiencing unsustainable growth and urban sprawl, at the expense of quality re-development that respects healthy existing neighbourhoods and a variety of lifestyle and residence choices, and genuine preservation of the natural environment.

Questions

How well thought-out do you think the current Grandview Heights General Use Plan (GLUP) is?

What do you think about the extensive density increases that often occur at the Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP) level?

NCPs are “guidelines” not by-laws. What do you think of the ability of developers to apply for amendments to zoning and other NCP elements?

What does ‘good environmental and social stewardship’ mean to you in relation to city planning?

In your opinion, who ‘owns’ a neighbourhood? How do you weigh the ‘ownership value’ of long-term residents and new residents who plan to stay, over other, shorter term interests such as political pressures and the development industry?

Grandview-Heights-logo

THE FORUM ANSWERS

Click on the name of the candidate to read their answer

Maz Artang – One Surrey

Merv Bayda – One Surrey

Michael Bose – One Surrey

Darlene Bowyer – One Surrey

Cliff Blair – Independent

Nav Dhanoya – Independent

Shawn Francis – Independent

Laurie Guerra – Safe Surrey Coalition

Brenda Locke/Stephen Gammer – Team Surrey

Jim McMurtry – Independent

Martin Rooney – Independent

Beau Simpson – Safe Surrey Coalition

Rick Scorsese – Independent

Brian Young – One Surrey

 Thank you Council Candidates for the time and thought you gave to these questions. We look forward to hearing from more Candidates soon to both help further your message and help residents understand your ideas about land development in Grandview Heights.