British Columbia

B.C. Votes 2017: Surrey-White Rock riding profile

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

For the first time in more than 20 years, the riding will have a new MLA — but likely not a new party

The B.C. Liberals have won the Surrey-White Rock riding in every election since it was created. (Elections BC)

In advance of the 2017 B.C. election, we'll be profiling all 87 electoral districts in the province. Here is Surrey-White Rock, one of nine ridings in Surrey — and one the Liberals have won handily for years.

1. Surrey is likely to be referred to as a "battleground" during the campaign — but ridings like Surrey-White Rock make that a bit of a misnomer.

Of the region's nine ridings (up from eight in the last two elections), just three are considered very competitive based on polling station results from 2013: Panorama, Guildford and Fleetwood. 

The rest tilt heavily toward either the B.C. Liberals or the NDP, and Surrey-White Rock is definitely Liberal country. 

2. Everything about Surrey-White Rock makes it look like a B.C. Liberal riding... 

The Liberals have won the riding in every election since it was created prior to the 1991 vote. The NDP has never received more than 30 per cent of the vote. The riding's demographics, much older and wealthier than the other Surrey-area districts, favour the Liberals. 

"These are the people who benefit from lower taxes, which is the B.C. Liberals' main theme. They tend to lower taxes for the rich who are earning more. White Rock is one of those ridings where it's an attractive offer," said Shinder Purewal, a political science professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

3. ...but there are two reasons the NDP might have a glimmer of hope.

First, the longtime MLA for the riding, Gordon Hogg, is stepping down after 19 years in office, depriving the Liberals of the power of incumbency.

"Let me tell you, Gordie is a great guy. Everyone here loves Gordon Hogg ... find someone with a bad thing to say about Gordon Hogg, they don't know what they're talking about," said Don Pitcairn, a community activist who ran for the Green Party against Hogg in 2009 and 2013. 

And second, in the 2015 federal election, the Conservative Party thought it would be invincible in South Surrey-White Rock with the popular three-term mayor of Surrey Dianne Watts running for them — but she won by fewer than 1,500 votes. In the portion of that riding which makes up the provincial Surrey-White Rock riding, it was the federal Liberal candidate who received more votes.

4. However, the B.C. Liberals have recruited a strong candidate.

Tracy Redies, the former CEO of Coast Capital Savings and current board member at the University of Victoria, was named as the party's nominee in October. 

"I don't think that I'll ever be able to fill [Gordon Hogg's] shoes, but I'm hoping to try," she told the Peace Arch News after the announcement. 

The NDP candidate is Niovi Patsicakis, a retired special education teacher and former president of the association of Surrey specialist educators, while the Green Party candidate is William Marshall, a Realtor who ran for the party in Delta North in 2013. 

5. Where does the NDP do well?

It has traditionally succeeded in getting votes in the apartment complexes to the northwest of White Rock Elementary and the area between King George Boulevard and Highway 99. 

6. What about the Liberals? 

The areas in South Surrey between the ocean and Sunnyside Acres go to the Liberals in huge numbers, with Hogg regularly getting more than 75 per cent of the vote in polling stations there during his tenure. 

Who's running in the 2017 British Columbia election?