We have all had our fun and games making jokes about Surrey over the years, but the time has come for the useless jabbering to stop.
Surrey has in the past experienced an inordinate number of crimes, particularly related to carjacking and violent gang-related offences. It truly beats me why crime is at all funny, but nonetheless people have felt the need to joke about the ever growing city, making it the butt of most jokes in the Lower Mainland.
But seriously, enough is enough.
Would it be funny for people in Surrey to make fun of the drug and homelessness problem on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside? No. Because neither drug addiction nor homelessness is funny.
The fact is Surrey has grown into a sprawling suburb that's on pace to eventually have a higher population than Vancouver. Part in due to lower housing costs and the suburban feel, Surrey is a hotbed for young and older families looking to settle down. And rightfully so. Besides adequate public transit, Surrey has everything a city needs for families: schools, parks, malls, the whole nine yards.
In fact, while the housing market in the rest of the Lower Mainland has flat-lined, Surrey has consistently grown over the years with no end in sight. And the housing prices have little to do with crime, but rather more to do with other factors like demographics, density and availability.
Has it had a large number of crimes in the past? Sure. But cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago also have histories of high violent crime. Does that define those cities? Should crime define Surrey? No. Nor am I attempting to compare Surrey to those cities, but rather saying crime is prominent in cities around the world, including the world class city of Vancouver. Crime is a problem that is not isolated to one place.
Much of this is a testament to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and the years of work she has put into the city. One of the hardest-working mayors in the province, Watts has made tough decisions that have overall improved the quality of Surrey in her many years at the position.
Murder is not funny and should not be joked about. There's nothing funny about gangs and the impact they have on society. When people make these jokes, one wonders if they consider the victims of these crimes.
When people joke about shootings in Surrey, do they stop and reflect on the innocent lives that have been senselessly lost? With gun violence prominently in the press in the past few weeks, why glorify them by displaying them in a satirical way. Are guns funny? No, not even close.
Are carjackings funny? I would say no. What about the person whose car and possibly possessions that were stolen. The insurance implications that it has on ICBC, a company we all feel the impacts from. Would you say those things are hilarious?
And what about the age old joke about "Surrey girls." How does one think that makes girls in Surrey feel? In an age of growing social communities, is the message we want to send to stereotype women in a ridiculous and plain offensive manner? Frankly the demoralization of women in our society is sad.
With bullying on a number of different platforms expanding and becoming a serious problem that people need to recognize, what sort of message are we sending when we laugh at things like this? When we find a T-shirt with a gun that says "your future dies here" humorous. Really? That is what we find funny? When we stereotype a gender in a city as essentially sluts?
I for one am fed up with the needless ridicule of a city that is wonderful in so many ways. Every city has its flaws but flaws do not and should not define a city. And the flaws Surrey has should not define it as a city.
Because as cheesy as it sounds, it is the city of tomorrow.
This article first appeared in VanCity Buzz.