LETTER to Mayor Watts and Council: FCM choices were inconsiderate

The Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver
The Fairmont Hotel in Vancouver, the staying place of Mayor Watts and Council during the FCM conference. Photo: CC-BY, Flickr – Karen Neoh

I was unhappy enough about the Mayor and Council’s decision to stay at a hotel for the FCM conference rather than commute that I decided to send a letter to them expressing my displeasure. A shortened version of this is being sent to the Surrey Now as a newsletter in response to a news article.

To Mayor Watts and Council,

There’s some legitimacy in the arguments you made to stay overnight in Vancouver, one I can recognize as a previous participator in Model United Nations hotel conferences, where students can and will dish out cash to be closer to the debate and enjoy the full experience of the conference.

I understand that there are costs for doing business. However, I think that the fine line between spending that is necessary and spending that is inconsiderate was indeed crossed last weekend when you decided to make US pay for your hotel bills.

For one, I don’t understand how commuting completely takes away from business and productivity, or costs nearly as much at all. It shouldn’t be excessively expensive to arrange a carpool or take the SkyTrain (you were given transit passes for free).

You mentioned that the time that was taken to commute was used to do your day-to-day business in terms of returning emails and phone calls. I thought that’s what your shiny smartphones (you should have them) are for, because I do this all the time during my commute. I have been learning to read and write Japanese on the SkyTrain. Keeping up with what’s going on in my life during a commute is an integral part of my daily life, because like most Surrey residents, it takes me so long just to get to places, and it would eat my time otherwise if I did not utilize transit for productivity.

Every day, tens of thousands of Surrey residents set aside their OWN money (and their time) for what they can buy out of Surrey’s transportation network. They don’t get a lot. They get high gas prices, substandard transit options, long and stressful commute times, and (by far) fewer options for jobs and schools compared to citizens North of Fraser.

No matter whose fault those issues are, I think it’s very inconsiderate that you have to take that same money – which Surrey doesn’t collect a lot of (lowest business & residential tax rates in Metro Vancouver) – and subsidize transportation breaks that the rest of Surrey doesn’t get, at the expense of the transportation improvements that are also paid for by those taxes.

$180-380 is a small part of your yearly salary. I promptly request that you re-insert those funds into the city budget and pay your share like the rest of us.

Daryl Dela Cruz
Surrey resident, Johnston Heights Secondary School 2013 alumni