AS Dianne Watts announces her retirement from municipal politics, many residents of Surrey are satisfied with specific actions taken by their outgoing government, but also ready for change at City Hall, an Insights West poll has found.
When asked about the possible configuration of City Council after this year’s election, two thirds of residents (68%) say they are ready for either a significant change or a small change in their legislators, while only 20% would like to see no change at all.
The online survey of a representative sample of Surrey residents—conducted in late March before the Mayor announced she would not seek a fourth term—shows that half of residents (49%) regard crime as the most important issue facing the city, followed by transportation (22%), health care (7%) and education (6%).
The Surrey municipal government gets high marks on its handling of parks, recreation and arts (66% say it has done an “excellent” or “good” job on this file), governing the city (56%), development within the city (56%), economic development (55%) and improving the image of Surrey (52%).
The city’s residents offer mixed reviews on city services (47%), the way the government has handled the city’s finances (45%) and their efforts to keep property taxes low and control spending (37%).
Three issues get a very low rating, and emerge as key themes in the upcoming municipal election. Only one-in-four Surrey residents (24%) think their government has handled transportation well, and even fewer residents are satisfied with the way it has handled homelessness (18%) and crime and public safety (16%).
“While the outgoing government gets praise on economic development, there are issues where the public is undeniably more critical,” says Mario Canseco, Vice President, Public Affairs at Insights West. “The numbers of satisfied residents on homelessness and public safety is very low, and the next mayor will lead BC’s second biggest city into discussions about transportation infrastructure with the provincial government.”
The race for the mayor’s chair appears to be wide open, and four current councilors hold similar levels of acquaintance with the population. Councillor Barinder Rasode enjoys the strongest level of high familiarity over Linda Hepner, Tom Gill and Bruce Hayne.
“The Surrey councilors who may want to replace Dianne Watts start from a similar position, although Councillor Rasode has a slightly stronger name recognition in the community” continues Canseco. “The key to a successful campaign will be for candidates to put forward solutions on the biggest concerns, particularly regarding crime and public safety.”