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Councillor says board of Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society 'blindsided' by city's move to disband

Last Updated Jun 26, 2020 at 7:39 pm PDT

FILE - Surrey City Hall.

Coun. Brenda Locke says the board was disbanded in a closed-door meeting

She worries about the timing of the move, considering the COVID-19 pandemic

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — A Surrey city councillor says a closed-door decision not to reinstate the Homelessness and Housing Society’s board has effectively halted their work.

Brenda Locke is also the chair of the society’s board.

“We’re in a very big quandary to be perfectly blunt. We have a society with no directors and a bank account of about $11 million with no oversight,” she says.

Without a board of directors, the society is out of compliance with the Societies Act.

“I’ve got to talk to a lawyer, and will be. I’ve already started that process to find out what we do because you can’t have a society that doesn’t have directors and right now we’re in a position where we do not have any directors. I feel really badly for the directors because they were really quite blindsided by this, these are all really good people that just wanted to do good work in their city.”

The society was established by the city in 2007 with a $9 million endowment from its Affordable Housing Reserve Fund.

But Locke says the $11 million currently in the bank isn’t the city’s.

“The notion that this money somehow belongs to the city of Surrey is incorrect. This money is donor provided,” according to Locke.

She worries about the timing of the move, considering the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m surprised that the decision was made at any time but especially now. It’s really disappointing and it’s concerning,” she notes, adding the society was in the process of preparing for a potential second wave in the fall.

Without access to the society’s funds, Locke says emergency grants to organizations will be put on hold.

NEWS 1130 reached out to Mayor Doug McCallum for comment.

“The Mayor will not be commenting as this matter was an item in Closed Council,” reads an email response from a spokesperson.