With Halloween just around the corner, we're running a story in today's edition of the Now looking at the Historic Stewart Farm and some paranormal happenings that employees have had at the site.
Or rather, we would have, if the City of Surrey would have allowed it to happen.
You see, while we do indeed have a story about the farm and the findings from a paranormal investigation team who checked out the site, we're missing some first-hand accounts from the people who spend the most time there: the employees.
In our bid to put together this fun, seasonal story for our readers, our reporters ran into some serious red tape thrown up by the city's many communications people.
Even for something as lowkey, uncontroversial and lighthearted as a simple story about some ghostly activity around a Surrey site, bureaucracy reared its ugly head and denied us, and by extension, you the reader, the opportunity to have even more fun with our Halloween story.
In researching this story, we found that several employees had in fact experienced paranormal occurrences during their shifts at the Stewart Farm. Naturally, we wanted to speak with these people and hear first-hand what their experiences were.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Because these employees were not the site's supervisor, the communications people in charge of the site refused to give us permission to speak with the employees. The reasons provided were simply "it should usually be the supervisor of the site" that we interview. Well, when the supervisor of the site has not had any personal experiences himself, that kind of nullifies the point of the request, and the story.
We're cynical enough to understand why communications surrounding sensitive issues might want to be closely monitored, but when you're applying such intense scrutiny and control over something like a simple Halloween story, things are clearly out of whack. Others in the Now's newsroom have run into similar roadblocks.
Earlier this month, one of our reporters wrote a story about a bylaw dispute regarding a residential garden in a Fleetwood neighbourhood.
When we requested to speak with the manager of bylaw enforcement, we were told he wasn't available for comment, despite him having spoken to other media about it. We were later given the standard "we're working to resolve the issue," statement, but nothing substantial.
Earlier this year, I wrote a column praising both the City of Surrey and the City of White Rock about the openness and accessibility of both cities.
Since that time, something seems to have drastically changed at the City of Surrey, while White Rock continues to remain as accessible as ever. There's something seriously wrong with your "communications" policy when it involves little to no communication.
Come on, Surrey.
Reporter Christopher Poon can be reached - with no red tape - at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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