Explore Surrey's municipal election history dating back to 1879, from incorporation to the ward system, to now.


Surrey was incorporated as a district municipality in 1879 and became the largest geographical municipality in BC in 1882 under the name The Corporation of the District of Surrey.

In the second year that Surrey existed as a district municipality, the Ward System was created. In 1957, the Ward System was abolished by the Provincial Government.

What is a Ward System?

A ward system creates geographical boundaries within a city that divide it into sections called wards. Wards are much like a provincial or federal riding, but within one city. An elected official - a council member - represents each ward. In this system, politicians run for a specific ward rather than the whole city, though the mayor is generally still elected by a city-wide vote.

The ward system was active in Surrey from before 1879 until 1957 when it was abolished by the provincial government. Currently, the City is an "at-large" voting system where citizens elect councillors to represent the whole city. Candidates from all areas of Surrey are welcome to run for Office of Mayor, Councillor or School Trustee.

Historical Timeline

  • Completed
  • Started
  • Pending

Surrey is incorporated on November 10.

The petition for Letter’s Patent (the document that grants the district municipality) is signed by 35 male residents.

At this time, the size of a municipality was restricted to 100 square miles. A half-mile strip had been left out of Surrey and Langley boundaries. Voters decide they want to join Surrey.


Three councillors are appointed to form the Board of Works.

A resolution passes to request the formation of a school district or funds be given to establish a school.


Surrey holds annual election terms.


A new municipal hall is built and the first meeting is held there on May 2.

The land purchase (what is now 168th Street and 60th Ave) and build of the town hall was not to cost more than $400. 

The ward system is created. On December 3, the Ward Bylaw passes and creates five wards with one councillor to represent each ward.


A new Letters Patent is created because of the boundary changes to include the discovered additional half of a mile.

The Corporation of the District of Surrey becomes the largest municipality geographically in BC.


A two-year election term is introduced.


White Rock separates from Surrey to become its own municipality.


The ward system is abolished by the provincial government.


Aldermen are elected annually, mayors are elected biennially.


Local governments are given the power to elect aldermen biennially and aldermen annually with the power to elect aldermen biennially at their discretion.


New amendments to the Municipal Act require that all local elections be held in 1990 and every three years after that.

Changes in the 1980s were to reduce costs, help increase voter participation and bring BC in line with other local election cycles across Canada.


A three-year election term is introduced.


Surrey became a City on September 11.


A four-year election term is introduced.