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Innovative Policies Set Surrey's GreenVote Apart!

GreenVote Policy Platform Leads in 2018 Municipal Election

by Roslyn Cassells - Canada's first elected Green

GreenVote Surrey council candidate Roslyn Cassells
GreenVote Surrey council candidate Roslyn Cassells
Baby Western Screech Owl - resident of Surrey
Baby Western Screech Owl - resident of Surrey
Townsend's Big-eared Bat - resident of Surrey
Townsend's Big-eared Bat - resident of Surrey
adult Western Screech Owl, endangered species, resident of Surrey
adult Western Screech Owl, endangered species, resident of Surrey

Oct. 15, 2018  In a cynical and corrupt political environment, GreenVote, a grassroots Surrey elector organization, is blazing an ethical green trail through what has become known as the City of Parking Lots – Surrey, BC.

Running a zero money, zero waste campaign, council candidate and former Green Party park commissioner Roslyn Cassells is a strong and determined voice for nature and social justice at city hall.

This year Cassells took the City of Surrey to BC Supreme Court to fight the construction of the road through Hawthorne Park, organized a grassroots campaign against mandatory Btk spraying in North Surrey, developed a Coexisting with Peafowl Plan for Sullivan Heights Community, and advocated for underpasses and temporary road closures for the endangered Western Toad in South Surrey. She has many innovative plans and policies which will show our most marginalized residents compassion, and protect our wildlife and wild spaces!  That includes our companion animals says Cassells, who plans to introduce a Spay and Neuter Program for low income residents and others struggling to help homeless animals in Surrey, a No Kill Policy at Surrey Animal Resource Center, and a Non-Lethal Wildlife Management Policy too.

Roslyn Cassells plans to bring in a No Net Loss of Green Space Policy, and Develop With Care guidelines to protect the environment during development.  She proposes free public transit because, in addition to the health and ecosystem benefits, there is no economic benefit to charging fares.  “The cost of instituting a fare system is equal to the amount collected from fares” she stated, “so why then, charge fares, when so many struggle to pay them?”  There is less cost for infrastructure like roads and bridges if more people take public transit.

More social housing, including more temporary and permanent modular housing is in order, and opening municipal buildings to homeless people instead of leaving them on the street to freeze to death in the winter and overheat in the summer.  Cassells proposes a City Rent Bank, and a new City Homelessness and Housing Outreach Team to assist people with housing and other needs.

We should have a free recreation pass for all low-income people in Surrey” commented Cassells.  “Health is very important and if you are poor it is already difficult to pay for housing, let alone food and recreation.  We need to make sure the basics of life are equally provided to all.”

Drop-In Centers for Youth are needed throughout the city, as are Drop-Ins for Adults.  We need better park amenities like public toilets that are not only occasionally unlocked, water fountains, comfortable benches, picnic tables, barbeque structures, and so on.

Cyclists need physically separated bike lanes, especially in commuter corridors, and improved cycling infrastructure such as better connectivity in the paths system, bike lock ups, and a public bike system.

“We urgently need an Independent Civilian Police Complaints Body, and if we are going to reconsider our policing contract with the RCMP, we need a thorough public consultation” said Cassells.  Putting more police officers on the street is not going to decrease crime or stop gang violence according to social researchers.  “We need to empower women and girls and gender equity must underscore everything we do at City Hall

Cassells proposes municipal broadband to improve accessibility of internet for all, an Ombudsperson for Surrey, progressive green taxation changes, transparency, ecological and social monitoring requirements, and the protection of all that is a social or ecological good in our City.  That includes protecting the Agricultural Land Reserve, banning of ecologically damaging practices, and supporting progressive collective projects like maker spaces, free markets, community arts hubs, and farmers markets.

Roslyn Cassells - GreenVote Surrey council candidate

City of Surrey candidate info: https://www.surrey.ca/election/candidates/roslyn-cassells.aspx

Facebook page for Roslyn Cassells for Surrey City Council:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/Roslyn-Cassells-for-Surrey-City-Council-1699563733470833/

The complete GreenVote Policy Platform is attached.  It is also copied in-line below in case you have problems opening it.  Also attached are photos of the candidate and some of her supporters.

 
GreenVote Municipal Policy – Surrey 2018

Table of Contents:

 

1 - INTRODUCTION:

Walk This Way: Social and ecological justice

Genuine Consultation

Path Forward:  Triple bottom line accounting, Develop With Care, Best Practices

 

2 - HOUSING PRIORITIES:

Protect Rental Stocks

Social Housing, Modular Housing, Landlord Discrimination, No Pets Policies

Rent Supplements

City Rent Bank

City Housing and Homelessness Outreach Team

Open municipal buildings to homeless people

Incentivize maintenance of existing rental stocks

Legislate for rental only zones, and against vacant properties

 

3 - SUPPORT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE AND ANIMALS:

Free low-income recreation pass

Spay and Neuter Program

No-Kill Policy at Surrey Animal Resource Center

Non-lethal wildlife management

Ecosystem protections and remediation

No Net Loss of Green Space Policy

Increase green spaces, mini parks, and dog parks

Park amenities: increase public toilet access, water fountain, comfortable benches and tables

Drop-In Centers for Youth

Drop In Centers for Adults

 

4 - TRANSPORTATION:

Increase bus service, dedicated bus lanes, and 24 hour service

Free Public Transportation

Separated bike lanes and improved cycling and path infrastructure

No Light Rail Transit or antiquated Skytrain technology

Interurban Rail consultation

 

5 - FOOD SECURITY:

Protect Agricultural Land Reserve

Community gardens, Seeds of Diversity, Master Gardeners

Ban ecologically damaging practices

Support initiatives for positive change: maker spaces, community arts hubs, free markets, farmers markets

Organics and recycling pickup

 

6 - POLICING AT A CROSSROADS:

Public consultation – municipal vs RCMP

Independent Civilian Police Complaints Body

Healthcare integration and mental health training

Unionize police officers

Zero tolerance of harassment/intolerance

 

7 - EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AND GIRLS:

Surrey City workers’ diversity

Mentoring, apprenticeship, coop work-study

Resource Center for Migrant and Temporary Foreign Workers

 

8 - TRANSPARENCY AT CITY HALL

9 - OFFICE OF OMBUDSPERSON

10 - MONITORING CITY HALL AND CITY OF SURREY

11 - MUNICIPAL BROADBAND

12 - PROGRESSIVE GREEN TAXATION

 

 

1 - INTRODUCTION:

WALK THIS WAY

·         Govern according to global green principles of social and ecological justice.

GENUINE CONSULTATION

·         Direct and ongoing involvement with local communities and First Nations on all projects at the planning stage and beyond, before decisions are taken and commitments are made.

THE PATH FORWARD

·         Apply triple bottom line accounting to all city projects, programs, services, and departments so that three aspects 1) society, 2) the ecology, and 3) the economy - are all given equal consideration in planning decisions.

·          Adopt as minimum standards Develop With Care guidelines developed by the Environment Ministry to help municipalities protect our wildlife and the ecology in Surrey.

·         Maintain Best Practices in all city projects, programs, services, and departments. 

·         Regularly review programs and services to ensure improvements to Best Practices are implemented without delay. 

·         Maintain close ties with professional and academic bodies to this end. 

·         Encourage and fund professional development of staff to maintain high levels of knowledge and capacity.

2 - HOUSING PRIORITIES

·         Work with staff, housing providers, non-governmental organizations, landlords, and other levels of government to provide assistance and incentives to maintain existing rental stocks,

·         Increase stock of social housing working with funders and providers,

·         Increase stock of temporary and permanent modular housing currently being funded by the province, since it is the quickest form of housing to provide for street homeless folks,

·         Fight landlord discrimination against government-funded income recipients and other barriers to housing like no pets policies,

·         Ensure all low-income renters are provided with rental supplements and other assistance to maintain tenancies, and

·         Establish a City Rent Bank for emergency funding of housing for low-income residents.

Create a City Housing and Homelessness Outreach Team to assist people to find permanent or temporary housing, stay in the housing, and thrive in their lives in Surrey.

·         Team members will help people meet their basic needs for survival – food, clothing, transportation, health care, employment, education, daycare and household necessities either by direct provision of aid if necessary, and by referral to appropriate community agency or service.

·          This team will meet regularly with all city departments to assess changing conditions and needs – do ongoing needs analyses and ongoing short and long term action plans.

·          The daily outcome for our city housing and homelessness team is this:  EVERYONE SAFELY HOUSED, FED, CLOTHED, AND CARED FOR EVERY DAY.

OPEN MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS TO HOMELESS PEOPLE

·         Emergency housing in municipal buildings: buildings which have the necessary amenities, and which are not currently being used, should be turned to the use of the people as need dictates.  Instead of leaving people to survive or die outside in the cold, rain, snow, or heat on the streets of our city we should open buildings for use by the public. 

·         There are numerous city-owned buildings which have heat, light, running water, washrooms, showers, kitchens, rooms for sleeping, rooms for service provision, and so on.

·          The city could provide outreach at these locations to connect people with necessary services to meet their needs. 

·         Companion animals should be welcomed and their needs provided for.

·         Couples, friends, and families should be able to remain together.  Those who are unable to cope with group situations must also be accommodated.

·         Wifi and outreach services from the library can help people re-establish their lives while in temporary digs.

·          Homeless people should also be given free access to recreation centers to wash, use the toilet, and enjoy the same amenities as the rest of the population.

 

HOUSING TOPICS FOR POLICY CHANGE

·         We must protect EXISTING rental stocks AT ALL COSTS.  We are not going to build our way out of the housing crisis.  The purpose built rentals and so-called “affordable housing” projects currently all the rage are only affordable to middle to upper income people.

·          In many neighbourhoods the plan is to destroy existing aging rental stocks to replace them with these purpose built rentals and “affordable housing”.  The monthly rental cost will increase for the units by between 200-300%.

·         Despite the new provincial legislation which requires developers to offer existing tenants first refusal on a unit in the new building, it will be impossible for most of the renters to come up with the new rental rates. 

·         The vacancy rate in the lower mainland is 0%.  Eviction = Homelessness

·         The housing allowance for the over 110,000 persons on provincial disability pension in BC and the thousands on social assistance in Surrey has remained frozen at $375 for a single person per month for housing.

·         For these reasons any attempt to destroy existing rental stock will render most of the residents homeless. 

·         The city must incentivize landlords to maintain their existing rental stocks and de-incentivize any redevelopments until such time as the vacancy rate increases to a point where people can find safe affordable housing, and the provincial government increases disability and assistance rates to reflect reality. A vacancy rate of at least 3% is considered essential.  The rates of disability pension and social assistance must be raised to meet Basic Living Standards.  A raise of 51% is required to meet the inflationary increases since the rates were frozen 14 years ago.  City Council must pressure the province to RAISE THE RATES!

·          Innovative housing initiatives for those struggling at the low-income end of society are essential to the survival of this demographic. 

·         We need to be open to Tiny Homes, modular housing, laneway housing, secondary suites, projects such as Dignity Village, and community collective solutions in whatever form they must take to keep people as safe as possible.

·         Zone for rental only where needed, with a focus on the most needed stocks of social housing, legislate against empty homes

 

3 - SUPPORT SERVICES FOR PEOPLE AND ANIMALS

 

·         Low income adults 18-65 should be given the free recreation access currently extended to youth and seniors. 

·         This demographic faces many barriers to health and community involvement which this access would mitigate. 

·         Offer free spay and neuter services to all those resident in Surrey who need it, as well as the community volunteers working with homeless animals and feral cats and rabbits in the municipality, regardless of their home residence. 

·         Free spay and neuter programs improve animal welfare by reducing suffering from homelessness, exposure, and starvation. 

·         Animal control costs will reduce over time where free spay and neuter programs are available.

·         Adopt No-Kill Policy towards animals throughout the City - at the City animal shelter, the Surrey Animal Resource Center, and in our interactions with indigenous and non-indigenous wildlife, and domestic animals.

·         Non-lethal wildlife and domestic animal management must be used.

·          Innovative adoption programs and other tactics to improve animal welfare and understanding of the needs of animals must become standard practice.

 

WILDLIFE NEEDS OUR PROTECTION TOO

·         Support wildlife protection, reintroduction, and education programs in cooperation with local residents, wildlife rehabilitators, ecological groups, First Nations, other municipalities, districts, and regions, provincial and federal governments, adjacent states and countries, cross-border programs such as the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and international agreements such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act etc.

ECOSYSTEMS AND BIODIVERSITY

·         Reconnect and remediate fragmented ecosystems and ecological communities through wildlife corridors, native plantings, day-lighting historic streams, decommissioning roads and other structures and remediating their sites, and

·         Reintroduce extirpated species once viable ecological supports exist.

·          Protect all species, most particularly those who have a great ecosystem impact, those provincially and federally listed species, those at risk of local extirpation, and those at risk of extinction

·         Incentivize projects, programs, and infrastructure that offer/add/protect ecological and social values within their philosophy, practices, or structures.

·         Adopt a NO NET LOSS OF GREENSPACE POLICY, city-wide.  The concept of green space is not simply hectare for hectare, but considering ecological values of biodiversity, protection of endangered or uncommon species and ecological communities, the fragmentation of habitats, with the goal of maintaining and improving our local ecologies, reconnecting fragmented habitats, re-establishing native species and ecologies, and supporting and increasing biodiversity.

·          Of all the things we leave behind when we leave this world…a healthy, biodiverse planet is the most valuable gift we can leave for future generations, for all our relations.

OUR PARKS AND PLACES

·         Increase green spaces in low-income neighbourboods. 

·         Increase mini-parks and off-leash dog parks. 

·         All residential areas should be within walking distance of both parks and dog parks.  This improves health outcomes, increases foot traffic, increases eyes on the street, increases safety and community connections. 

·         More benches and covered benches/tables, water fountains, and public toilets are needed in parks and public spaces so people can extend their stay outside and enjoy a break along the way. 

·         Many seniors, disabled persons, and parents with small children have great need for this and cannot access greenspaces if these amenities are not made available. 

·         Outreach is needed to low-income and marginalized communities to make them aware of programs and services provided by the city.

·         Drop-in centers for youth and others for all-ages throughout the city are essential so kids and marginalized communities have a safe place to go during the day or night, before/after school, on weekends, and holidays…where they can connect with other youth and mentors, peers, and allies. Access to phones, computers, washrooms, showers, laundry, food security and other services as needed, will be made available.

 

4 - TRANSPORTATION SUPPORT:

 

·         Increase bus services, including expanded hours of service to provide safe, accessible transit for all at all times.

·         Advocate for a fare-free service (as the cost for implementing a fare structure and enforcing it is equal to the monies collected from fares), and there would be social and ecological benefits as accessibility would increase, and pollution and congestion would decrease.

·         Establish dedicated bus lanes and physically separated commuter bike lanes during peak periods on all routes and all day on high-use routes,

·         Commence public consultation on the possibility of rejuvenating the interurban railway, which has established infrastructure and rights of way and therefore less costly and destructive than LRT or the proposed Skytrain extension.

·         Improve the paths’ network to address connectivity, safety, and accessibility for cyclists, walkers, and others using transportation other than cars…i.e. wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, motorized scooters, skateboards, rollerblades and so on.

·          Separated bike lanes are necessary for bicycle commuters on main routes to provide safe commuting options. Improved cycling infrastructure is essential. We need physically separated bike lanes, in commuter corridors and eventually all roads.

 

YES TO EXPANDED BUS SERVICE - NO TO LRT AND SKYTRAIN

·         GreenVote says No to Light Rail Transit and No to antiquated Skytrain technology, especially any attempt to place structures in Green Timbers.

·          The communities most effected by the construction of these mega-projects were ignored, no consent was given at the local level. 

·         LRT has little local benefit, and has resulted in increased congestion in the North Surrey construction zone, increased pollution, increased road construction.

·         The "Early Works SNG LRT" projects include the 105 Ave. Connector from Whalley to Guildford- which  bisects an elementary school playground leaving Hjorth Park Elementary School (home to the city’s most vulnerable students) on a traffic island between 104 Ave., 148 St., and the 105 Ave. Connector when the City, ignoring wildlife protections, paved a road through Hawthorne Rotary Park over the opposition of over 12,000 residents, draining a 5,000 year old bog and destroying the habitats of many wild animals and plants including 17 endangered species.

·         If elected:  Move to stop 105 Avenue connector construction to save Hjorth Park Elementary School playground and re-wild Hawthorne Rotary Park, mitigate damage done to bog, endangered species and others.

·         For the $1.6 Billion approved funds by the federal and provincial governments to be spent on Phase 1 SNG-LRT project, we could easily fund an excellent rapid bus system which would be more affordable and accessible, and provide sustainable jobs, as well as improved amenities such as physically separated bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure like bike lockups and improved path connectivity.

 

5 - FOOD SECURITY:

 

·         Improve food security by protecting existing Agricultural Land Reserve lands in our jurisdiction and encouraging their active use for local agricultural production. 

·         Encourage property owners to grow food for themselves and for the community on their land. 

·         Expand community gardens to allow more low-income apartment dwellers to access greenspace to grow their own food.

·         Network with master gardeners and seed-sharing projects to enhance crop diversity, and strengthen resilience and cultural survival through mutual aid.

·         Ban any ecologically damaging practices in our jurisdiction.

·         Support community initiatives to strengthen cooperation, the ecology, and local economy – farmers’ markets, community markets, free markets and stores, maker spaces, and community arts spaces and hubs.

·         Increase frequency of pick up of organics and recycled bins and reduce frequency of pickup of garbage.

6 - POLICING AT A CROSSROADS

·         The current policing model in Surrey carries with it the systemic strengths and deficiencies of the RCMP. 

·         Changing over to a municipal force could be considered should public consultation indicate a strong preference. 

·         Whether municipal or RCMP we need independent civilian oversight and police complaints procedures.

·         The police needs to build and develop trust and rapport with our vulnerable populations.

·         Comprehensive and ongoing training on mental health issues should be a given. Health care providers, including mental health professionals need to be integrated into the police force.

·         Police officers should be allowed to unionize to better address workplace concerns and to better the workplace environment.

·         There must be zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the workplace - across the board - civilians and police members. There must be zero tolerance of sexual harassment of the public, racial or gender discrimination. There must be ongoing analyses and evaluation of policing trends, practices, and policies.

 

7 - EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN AND GIRLS IN SURREY

·         The empowerment of women must inform all city practices, policies, and programming.

·         The City must regularly assess all programs, projects, services, and City departments for gender equity.

·         Access to safe, affordable housing, education and employment make it possible for women to live independent lives, and improves the lives and futures of their dependents.

·         The city must strive to support organizations in our community which directly aid women and girls.

·         Canada lags far behind when it comes to the participation of women in positions of authority, we must promote qualified candidates

·         Our community sorely lacks sufficient basic services for women and children fleeing domestic violence, and the city needs to step up to meet the shortfall or women and children will continue to live in unsafe homes as they have no other option.

·         First Nations women and girls, and women and girls from racialized minorities must have available to them culturally appropriate services to meet their needs for safety, safe affordable stable housing, food security, education and employment.

8 - SURREY CITY WORKERS SHOULD REFLECT US ALL

·         Every attempt should be made to integrate under - represented demographics into employment with the city.

·         The city should make efforts to reach out to under-represented communities such as First Nations people, refugee communities, and transgender and other non-binary identifying persons, to make them aware of employment opportunities that they are qualified for.

·          Mentoring projects can also be instituted to provide support, life-skills, and community referrals to at-risk youth and others seeking to enter employment with the City of Surrey with the goal of supporting them to maintain steady employment with the City, and to thrive in their lives here in Surrey.

·         Active participation in apprenticeship and coop work-study programs is vital.

·         There are many temporary foreign workers, seasonal farm workers, care workers, nannies and other workers in unstable employment in Surrey. They often fall through the cracks regarding their conditions of work, housing, healthcare, and so on.  I propose a City funded Surrey Migrant & Temporary Foreign Workers Resource Center to to inform and assist this demographic.

9 - TRANSPARENCY AT CITY HALL

·         Surrey needs clear policies and practices around decisions made at council.

·         Conflict of Interest rules must be established and followed to avoid the too cosy relationships between elected officials and companies doing business with the City.

·         City councillors who receive campaign donations or other considerations from developers and/or related industry and individuals may not serve on the Planning Committee for example, due to conflict of interest.

·         Improved public participation processes need to be implemented without delay.

·         Meaningful consultation means being open to cancelling or changing projects.

10 - OFFICE OF OMBUDSPERSON FOR SURREY

·         Establishment of Office of Ombudsperson in Surrey to address concerns of public on municipal matters when all regular channels have been exhausted.

·         The Ombudsperson would have the power to require the City to reconsider decisions, to follow existing laws, policies, protocols and procedures when the City has not done so.

11 - MUNICIPAL BROADBAND for the City of Surrey

·         Universal access would increase accessibility to the internet, an important tool to access information and services.

·         It would increase social equity and participation in community life.

12 - KNOWING THE FACTS OF THE MATTER AND TAKING ACTION TO REMEDY INSUFFICIENCIES:

·         Municipal register of property owners and businesses which operate in Surrey, to ensure transparency in council decisions in any dealings with companies that do business with the City,

·         Tracking of City actions/inaction on climate change, and waste policies,

·          Keep a regularly updated register of demolitions, demovictions, AirBnB units, secondary suites, empty homes, rental stocks, and shelter beds, and enact legislation to address inequities.

·         Track numbers of homeless people, people in core housing need, people in short-term rentals, people in unstable, unsafe housing, and take action to address inequities.

·         Monitor pollution, toxins and use the full extent of current laws to mitigate damaging business practices, put in place regulations to monitor any company, organization, or individual who has violated environmental regulations, and provide penalties to eco-offenders, and

·         Regularly assess deficiencies and develop short and long-term plans to remedy them using Best Practices.

·         Work in cooperation with other jurisdictions on regional issues and to promote equality and equity.

PROGRESSIVE GREEN TAXATION

·         Changing the tax regime to reflect green values of taxation. 

·         Taxation should be based on consumption and waste.

·          Provide tax and other incentives to companies, organizations, and individuals whose actions, policies, and practices have a positive social and ecological effect on those who live in Surrey.

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