Profiling Surrey's political parties: Surrey Forward, led by Jinny Sims

·3 min read
Surrey Forward leader Jinny Sims in her campaign office on Sept. 21. (CBC News - image credit)
Surrey Forward leader Jinny Sims in her campaign office on Sept. 21. (CBC News - image credit)

Surrey mayoral candidate Jinny Sims is running in a crowded field of seven other candidates for the city's top job, with the same level of determination that's taken her from teacher to union president to elected office.

The municipality with a motto that's changed from the "city of parks," featuring a beaver logo, to "the future lives here" with silhouettes of high-rises is attracting political veterans like Sims, who has taken leave from her role as MLA for the campaign.

Sims, 70, and a grandmother, is running a well-organized and glossy campaign while taking ruthless aim at Surrey's current mayor Doug McCallum.

What is Surrey Forward?

Surrey Forward is the name of a new party created by Jinny Sims earlier this year.

Sims is an NDP MLA and former MP who has promised to step down if elected this October. She has also previously been president of the B.C. Teachers Federation.

Running with Sims for a council seat with Surrey Forward are June Liu, Ramon Bandong, Theresa Pidcock, Philip Aguirre, Jody Toor, Arsh Mander and Paramjit Malhi.

What is their biggest issue?

The issue that animates Sims most is the idea of clearing "corruption" from city hall, which she says is mostly due to current mayor Doug McCallum.

"The current mayor has absolutely brought disgrace to the office," she said.

"He's got a criminal charge, he's going through a trial and he pretends there is nothing wrong, he has cut out anybody who disagrees with him."

Sims said she would bring back many of the advisory committees that were removed under McCallum's tenure, reduce the number of private council meetings held, and create more transparency around development applications.

"We need a city hall that is fair for everyone, not just the select few who have special backroom access to the mayor," she said.

"When you have [transparent] systems in place, then people know and can simplify the process so they don't feel they need to know other people to get the work done for them."

What will they do about policing?

Sims doesn't take a position on whether to stick with the incoming Surrey Police Service or switch back to contract policing under the RCMP.

Instead, she promises to study the issue for three months after being elected, to "get all the data that is required so we can make an informed decision."

At the same time, while she says McCallum "messed up the transition," she claims the issue is less important to Surrey residents than some of her rivals — notably McCallum and Brenda Locke — have made it out to be.

"Most people in Surrey are not worried about the uniform," she said.

"They're worried about the shootings, they're worried about their young people dying … let's get the focus back on safety and security."

What are some of their other promises? 

Sims promises she will fight for increased bus service, particularly at night, and a SkyTrain line through Newton to South Surrey, which would likely require billions of dollars from higher levels of government.

Sims also promises to double the number of permits issued for new housing, but with a focus on below-market buildings.

On climate issues, Sims brings the focus back to increasing transit, saying it's important to create enough routes between Surrey's six town centres (City Centre, Newton, Guildford, Cloverdale, South Surrey, Fleetwood).

"If those six town centres are linked with each other with a rapid bus system that runs regularly every 10 minutes, that will get a lot of people out of cars, and then we'll work on many other issues to do with the environment."

But even on transit, Sims brings the issue back to corruption and transparency.

"The rest of Surrey has been abandoned when it comes to public transit for housing," she said.

"People are feeling it's not being fair that a few people are driving the development here and they want that blown up."