SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Less than a week after Surrey’s top cop penned an open letter, trying to ease safety concerns, it seems people in that city aren’t happy with the way crime is being handled.
A new poll suggests most people in Surrey believe it is one of the most dangerous in the region. Fifty-five per cent of those responding to the Research Co. survey say public safety is worse in Surrey than in other Metro Vancouver municipalities.
“We do see that there are things about Surrey that the residents of Surrey are happy with. They do believe that they have a higher quality of life than other areas,” points out Mario Canseco with Research Co.
“When it comes to crime, there’s more than half of them who say there are other municipalities that are doing better than us for a wide range of regions.”
There also continues to be an appetite for Surrey moving away from being policed by the RCMP and towards having its own municipal force.
“We’ve seen this question asked many times,” says Canseco. “Usually, you get around 40 per cent saying they would like to see it happen. There’s definitely a higher number now. We have a majority of residents who say this is the way it should be. In a way, it’s logical because it is the largest municipality in the country that does not have its own police force.”
Fifty-six per cent of those asked believe a municipal force is the way to go for Surrey.
He adds with a municipal election just around the corner, this is something the candidates will likely need to consider. “Can you go out there and actually promise that this is going to happen, knowing that the people want it — but also being aware of how difficult it is to implement?”
The poll finds 45 per cent of people think crime is the most important issue in Surrey — that proportion spikes to 58 per cent among those living in Newton.
When it comes to the blame game, people seem to be pointing the finger at all levels of government relatively equally. Forty-nine per cent are dissatisfied with how the BC government has addressed the issue, 51 per cent are unhappy with how the feds are responded, and 53 per cent say the municipal government’s actions haven’t been good enough.
“It’s not a situation where they’re blaming a specific area of the government over others. I think they all understand that this has to be handled by a holistic approach.”
Marijuana will become legal in Canada in a matter of months, and Canseco says although there’s been a lot of talk about the move meaning a drop in crime.
“We just don’t see a situation where the Surrey residents actually believe that this is going to be the case,” he tells us. “Almost half of them are saying, ‘I don’t expect the level of crime to go down once marijuana is legalized.'”
And it seems many people might want to go back in time a few years. More than half (52%) of those asked would like to see Dianne Watts as the city’s mayor again.
“It was an astonishingly high level,” says Canseco. “It’s not something you see every day, for a former mayor to have that kind of rating. Obviously, she didn’t leave because she lost an election — she went on to do other things. But you do see that there’s a level of name recognition that’s going to be crucial for the Surrey First party. I think now that they’ve named Tom Gill as their candidate, he’s going to need Dianne Watts by his side.”