Friday, March 14, 2008


Didn't I just give Mayor Watts credit this morning....?


By Alex G. Tsakumis

‘Rebel With A Clause’

Over the last two and a half years, I have lost track of the seemingly endless efforts by local journalists to compare Vancouver with Surrey, or vice versa.

The temptation to do this, it is easy to surmise, exists because while Vancouver is steeped in failed policy and public relations exercises that do nothing to make our lives better, Surrey actually seems to have grown into the role of leading city in the Lower Mainland.

This didn’t come to pass by accident either.

If leadership counts for anything in making a city better than how you’ve found it, Surrey Mayor Dianne MegaWatts, in the same tradition of a Carole Taylor, is the difference.

After having thankfully dispatched the often-morose Doug MacCallum from the Mayor’s chair in the fall of 2005, Ms. Watts has turned Surrey into one of the most livable and enjoyable places in all British Columbia.

Her reasonable populism and measured approach to everything from crime to sustainability, the real kind, is testament to Surrey’s success.

At noon today, Ms. Watts will be giving her State of the City Address and this scribbler, and 24hrs newspaper, have been given the exclusive on her speech.

A perusal of her remarks is a journey through astounding accomplishments for a rookie Mayor, who, at the genesis of Her Worship’s travels, was unfairly vilified by Surrey Clrs. Marvin Hunt and Judy Higginbotham, both of whom look like unremittingly foolish pinheads, in retrospect.

Since Dianne Watts’ inaugural, a Crime Reduction Strategy has seen a co-operative effort between three layers of government, one hundred individuals and fifty organizations, bear tremendous fruit. With a combination of compassion and decisiveness, Surrey has taken it’s previous moniker, for decades past, as ‘Crime Central’ and obliterated that notion with steely resolve: 840 grow-ops identified in 2007 alone and only 30 left to deal with—a drop of approximately 98%; Prolific Offender Target Team nabs and jails 216 chronic offenders; auto-theft down by 50% and (are you paying attention NPA councilors in Vancouver??) 119 new police officers, plus 45 support staff; and, most encouragingly, instead of ridiculous drug replacement fantasies, as touted by Vancouver’s now back-peddling Mayor, drug TREATMENT for the addicted downtrodden in Surrey, with an additional 300 new homes for the homeless.

No begging the Gordonator for help. No whining to the Prime Minister about funding. No lifting credit from Minister Coleman for housing initiatives. No agitating unions. No hair brained councilors more concerned with free-range chicken eggs than people. You get the message: no operating like Vancouver

Her Worship said she was going to clean Surrey up. I gather she wasn’t kidding.

When I interviewed Ms. Watts recently in her modest office at City Hall, about her Livability Accord and Sustainability Plan, she was crystal clear, “You can’t have towers anywhere a developer wants them…we said City Center…and we meant it—you can’t have bloody towers in a flood plain…we are seeing major investments in landscapes that make sense for everybody, with growth that’s got purpose and makes people’s lives easier”. Not to mention, her vision for expanded transportation plans that will ease Surrey into ‘greener’ pastures—so to speak.

Thus, you see why Dianne Watts, the grand visionary, is emerging as the most popular and accomplished Mayor in this province.

She gets it.

When I asked her about ambitions beyond the Mayor’s Chair, I noted her uncanny ability to bridge the political divide, bringing peace to a previously rancorous Surrey council.

“Premier…?”, I said. She laughed, loudly. “You’re hysterical”, said Ms. Watts.

Apparently, I’m as funny as I am accurate.


will appear in the paper on Sunday.


"Everyone is beautiful in their own way-ay-ay-ay..."

A Fetching Editorial

Somehow, I get the idea that I'm not on the short list to join the Sun editorial board.

I hope we don't have to share a dining room table at the care home. The drooling will be combative to say the least.

In writing about the mayoralty race today, the editorial noted The Nutty One's about face on hiring more police officers. They then acknowledge that Raymond Louie says the mayor is just pandering to voters. Duh?

And here's their deeply considering reaction to that well-founded accusation:

"That seems a bit far-fetched."

What are they smoking?


The mayor hates the police. He has been fighting with them for years. He doesn't want more police. He wants private security goons disguised as "ambassadors." He supports one and only one pillar of the comically mis-named Four Pillars Strategy, and that is Harm Seduction. He has politicked ardently for years against Enforcement.

Do the editorial writers read their own archives? Do they know who this fellow is? Do they not realize that everything he does is politically motivated and aimed solely at self-advancement?

What gene are they missing?

What is far-fetched is the paper's take on the Man in Office.
By the way, the dog's name is Farley.

Wrong Again, Canada

The only good thing about the Commons vote to keep Canadian soldiers dying in the drug economy called Afghanistan is that the NDP voted against it.

My Dog Would Like to Leave a Deposit

Dobell gets an "absolute discharge?"

I have an absolute discharge for him. But it's a bit messy.

And for all his apologists and for the court that absolved him utterly.

How can the man closest to the Premier and the Mayor claim ignorance of the rules?

And I say again...if he is such a stalwart citizen, what is he doing charging the taxpayers $250/hour to consult on matters of homelessness?

Say, Ken, now that you've been a well-compensated snivel servant all your life, when does the giving back kick in?

Amazing Day - Two Good News Stories

It's not often that we get good news. What a rarity then is today. Two good news stories, Two!

1. Great recommendation from Parks Board Commissioner Spencer Herbert that the city save the Mount Pleasant Community Centre building at 16th & Ontario and let it be used by theatre companies for teaching and rehearsal space.

Congratulations to Spencer for this simple and practical and welcome idea. The cost is minimal and the rewards are enormous for the artistic community as well as for the neighbourhood.

Further consideration is being given to maintaining the outdoor pool for 4 months each year, and that cost is a mere $70,000. Why wouldn't we do that?

I think these are both marvelous uses of existing facilities and we should endorse these notions fully.

2. Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts should also be given high praise for her decision to move Surrey City Hall from its current unreachable outpost to a more central location to spur on the beginnings of a real downtown core.

I mis-spent about an hour last month at the corner of 152 and 110 or was it 110 and 152? What a wasteland! Huge multi-laned streets, boring strip malls, no people walking, nothing to walk to...a classic California suburb. Possibly the worst living space ever devised by man on earth.

This is a bold and much needed initiative and Watts is to be commended for grabbing hold of this necessity and running with it. Maybe one day soon, Surrey will actually be a place worthy of working in and visiting.