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Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner's first year as mayor evaluated

It was a year ago this week that Linda Hepner’s promises of better transit and a beefed up police force propelled her to an easy victory in the race for the mayor’s chair in Surrey.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says whoever replaces her as mayor needs to focus on developing a congestion strategy for the city. (CBC)

It was a year ago this week that Linda Hepner's promises of better transit and a beefed up police force propelled her to an easy victory in the race for the mayor's chair in Surrey.

Hepner told voters the city would hire 100 new RCMP officers, keep property taxes low and build a new LRT system.

"Whether it's public policy, transit, livability, sustainability, these four years are going to be busy for all of us," Hepner said in her victory speech.

Darlene Bowyer with the group known as the Surrey Association of Sustainable Communities says she is still waiting for the mayor to make good on some of her campaign pledges.

"There are a lot of things that really haven't been fixed in Surrey, which were promised," Bowyer said.

"We have a number of shootings on our streets still and there are a number things that really haven't changed."

Crime still an issue

A few months after Hepner was sworn in as mayor, a bloody turf war broke out between low level dealers in the Newton area.

Violent crime has spiked by 36 percent in Surrey. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

There were dozens of shootings, and Hepner addressed the issue in her state of the city address earlier this year.

"I could trot out statistics and graphs and charts that demonstrate that we are legitimately a safe, big city," Hepner said.

"The simple fact is that if you don't feel safe, all the statistics in the world aren't going to matter."

Surrey RCMP say 66 of the 100 new officer positions Hepner promised have now been filled and the remaining 34 officers will be in place by summer.

Earlier this week, former VPD officer Terry Waterhouse was hired as Surrey's director of public safety strategies.

Transit Woes

The first leg of the proposed LRT line would run along King George Blvd. (City of Surrey)

Hepner promised to have the first leg of a light rail transit system up and running by the end of her first term as mayor.

She admitted she couldn't deliver on that promise shortly after the transit plebiscite was shot down by voters.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University political science professor Shinder Purewal said that was the low point of Hepner's first year as mayor.

"The TransLink referendum was a question mark, because it really failed," Purewal said.  

Hepner now says she hopes construction will start on the project in 2018.

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