SURREY - The first in a series of six community town hall meetings kicked off Wednesday night in Cloverdale at the Cloverdale rec centre.
Coun. Barinder Rasode organized the meetings, which will now take place in Newton, South Surrey, Guildford, North Surrey and Fleetwood.
The town hall meetings are a way for citizens and stakeholders to voice their opinions, Rasode said.
"I've always felt a big responsibility, because I've been elected to serve people, to give them opportunities as much as possible to voice their thoughts," she said.
With more than 30 residents in attendance at Wednesday's Cloverdale town hall meeting, Rasode said it went well.
"Transit was at top of mind. It definitely dominated the conversation last night," she said Thursday.
She said the Clayton neighbourhood was really started as a planning experiment in compact neighbourhoods.
"And what's happened is transit didn't come with the neighbourhood," Rasode said. Residents expressed their concerns over access to transit, as well as parking and congestion problems, she said.
"I think residents were encouraged to hear we have the same frustrations and we agree with them."
Bill Reid, executive director of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, said four main issues were brought up at the meeting: illegal suites, transit, traffic/crime and utilization of the Cloverdale Fairground's Stetson Bowl.
Reid said several speakers talked about the "rampant" issue of illegal suites in the area.
Many homes in the area are equipped with basement suites and coach homes, and many homeowners are renting out both, he said.
Currently, Surrey only allows one secondary suite. A third is illegal.
He said Clayton Heights is one area where the "blatant abuse" is happening.
"If it's one or two people, it's not an issue, but when you've got 300 - you've got a problem," Reid said. "It's a major issue."
He said the city is losing income as a result of these illegal suites.
"The city really has to get its head around this problem," Reid said.
The Chamber of Commerce has long advocated for something to be done with the Stetson Bowl, Reid said, and he was encouraged to hear residents agree.
"It's only utilized four days a year. It's a 4,200-seat facility and 361 days a year it sits unused," Reid said. The stadium is used during the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.
He would like to see artificial turf installed in the venue, which he says will enable it to be used for more events, and by students in surrounding schools.
Reid would like to see the city and the school board pitch in to install artificial turf.
"It needs to be upgraded for the community to use and for Surrey to use. Period," he said.
Find the upcoming town hall dates and locations below. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.:
Newton - April 12 at Newton Seniors Centre, located at 13775 70th Ave.
South Surrey - April 16 at Elgin Hall, located at 14250 Crescent Rd.
Guildford - April 18 at RCMP District #2, located at 10395 148th St.
North Surrey - April 30 at City Centre Library, located at 10350 University Dr.
Fleetwood - May 1 at Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex, located at 16555 Fraser Hwy.
In addition to the community town hall meetings, Surrey will be holding a virtual town hall meting on June 13. Council chambers will be open, but those unable to attend in person can join in and ask questions via Twitter, Facebook or a live chat on the city's website.