British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Surrey-Whalley riding profile

A look at Surrey-Whalley, one of the 87 electoral districts in British Columbia.

Bruce Ralston seeks a fourth term in Surrey-Whalley, traditionally one of the safest seats in B.C. for the NDP

Surrey-Whalley comprises the northwest section of the city. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Surrey-Whalley, one of nine ridings in Surrey — and one where the NDP are heavy favourites.

1. In every election, there comes a story about Surrey-style politics: battleground ridings where large divisions between ethnic groups create a fierce campaign.

While that is sometimes true, Surrey-Whalley has never been one of those ridings. The district was created prior to the 1986 election, and with the exception of 2001, has gone to the NDP every time since — one of only 11 areas of B.C. where that is the case. 

MLA Bruce Ralston was first elected for the NDP in 2005, has won each of his three elections by at least 3,500 votes. The B.C. Liberal candidate is Sargy Chima, a longtime public servant. 

The Green Party candidate is Rita Fromholt, the former sustainability coordinator for the University of Victoria and a longtime environmental campaigner. 

2. Issues at play in Surrey-Whalley are much the same as the rest of Metro Vancouver.

"They all want a strong economy, they all want good paying jobs," said former Liberal MLA Dave Hayer, who represented the neighbouring region of Surrey-Tynehead from 2001 to 2013. "Health care, transportation, education, they're always things people are talking about."

But beyond the big picture issues, there are plenty of specific policies that are bound to be discussed during the campaign, from rapid development along the King George Boulevard strip, to two new proposed injection sites in the riding, to the ever-present debate over the future of the Pattullo Bridge

3. The biggest divide in Surrey though, more than anything else, could be money.

"Some of the ridings, if the income level is more to the lower end ... constituencies end up voting more to the NDP. Not all the time, but many times," said Hayer.

That dynamic doesn't play out all the time in Vancouver or Victoria, but it certainly has in the last two elections in Surrey.

In Surrey's current riding, the three that have an average income among the 10 lowest in B.C. (Whalley, Newton and Green Timbers) all went to the NDP by at least 3,000 votes in 2009 and 2013, while the three ridings that are among the 15 highest for average income (White Rock, Cloverdale and Panorama) went to the B.C. Liberals by at least 3,000 votes. 

Meanwhile, the two ridings in the middle (Fleetwood and Guildford) were determined by 2,000 votes or less. 

4. Where does the NDP do well? 

It's done very well throughout the riding in recent elections — but especially in the quadrant west of 132 Street and south of 108 Avenue, where the party has receieved upwards of 65 per cent at many polling stations.   

5. What about the Liberals? 

A couple of the new apartments along King George Boulevard, next to Surrey Central, are the only polling stations the party won in 2013.