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Surrey was incorporated as a district municipality in 1879 and became the largest geographical municipalities in BC in 1882 under the name The Corporation of the District of Surrey.
In the second year that Surrey existed as a municipality, the Ward System was created. 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. While the City doesn't have specific councillors for each area, current city council has representation from several different areas, including Guildford, Fleetwood, Cloverdale, and South Surrey. Candidates from all areas of Surrey are welcome to run for city council or school trustee.