SURREY, B.C. —
For the first time, the mayor of Surrey faced a question Friday about why the city bought him a $46,000 car to drive even though he already has an annual car allowance. Instead of answering, Doug McCallum laughed.
CTV News broke the story three weeks ago, but was only able to question McCallum directly during a news conference announcing the new Surrey police chief.
McCallum laughed, and pivoted to an answer regarding the budget of the Surrey Police Service – itself a major issue, as the Surrey RCMP has warned the public may be at risk without a plan to co-ordinate between the existing Mounties and the new municipal force.
Not taking the question about public funds seriously is a sign the mayor is out of touch with taxpayers, said Surrey Coun. Jack Hundial.
“(McCallum is) asking the taxpayers to wholeheartedly endorse a minimum of a 12 per cent tax increase, and on top of that borrow millions of dollars, but he laughs about something as serious as that,” the councillor said.
The mayor gets a $14,580 car allowance. A picture taken of McCallum filling up gas at city pumps sparked a freedom of information request that showed that the mayor’s Buick SUV he had been driving since January is actually owned by the city.
After being contacted by CTV News, the mayor’s office previously said that he is paying his car allowance back to the city to cover the costs, though hasn’t provided any accounting of the costs apart from claiming McCallum paid the full amount back to the city and was on the hook for other costs.
More questions arose about the consequences of the mayor’s at-fault rear-ending of a vehicle driven by an 81-year-old, who was injured in the crash this summer. The mayor is covered under the city’s insurance policy and it’s not clear whether taxpayers are paying for insurance after the crash, or what it cost to fix the damage.