SURREY – Surrey mayoral candidate Doug McCallum revealed a $21 million six-point public safety platform Tuesday morning while introducing four city council running mates.
Seeking office as the Safe Surrey Coalition, they are small business owner Rina Gill, community advocate Laurie Guerra, lawyer Justin Thind and journalist Beau Simpson.
Simpson has taken a leave of absence from his job as editor of the Now to run for council.
The six-point platform, heading into the Nov. 15 civic election, includes the introduction of a Mayor’s Integrated Public Safety Council to replace the police committee, establishing minimum thresholds for service levels in accordance with the RCMP contract accountability provisions, and doubling the number of police officers on patrol and speeding up the hiring of 95 new RCMP officers to 2015.
The platform also calls for doubling the number of bylaw officers, investing $4 million per year over four years into a "crime prevention through social development community strategy (CPSD)," launching a public-awareness campaign and "encouraging involvement" with the RCMP public crime-prevention programs and Surrey Crime Prevention Society.
The Safe Surrey Coalition’s press release says Surrey is "faced with an ongoing crime wave that is being met with inaction by the current Surrey mayor and council."
McCallum, who served as Surrey’s mayor from 1996 to 2005, was defeated by Dianne Watts while seeking a fourth term.
"People are fearful in neighbourhoods across Surrey and are looking for leadership, detailed proposals and most importantly a plan for action on the issue of public safety," McCallum said.
"The Safe Surrey Coalition represents a group of candidates with diverse community involvement, political affiliations and professional backgrounds that are united by one overpowering concern: public safety."
Within the first 100 days of taking office, the coalition says, it would double the number of uniformed general duty officers on patrol to 72.
All told, McCallum said, the annual costs of the 95 new RCMP officers would be $15 million, the 24 new bylaw officers $2 million and the CPSD, $4 million to a total of $21 million.
"Together, if we get our community working, with all of our city staff, and with the RCMP, and we work together, then we will drive crime from our community," McCallum said.
He identified three sources to pay for his plan. Six million dollars, he said, would come in budget savings with no cuts to police or staff, but "shutting down" the Surrey Regional Economic Summit. Five million would come from taxation as new residents and businesses locate in Surrey and $10 million would come from "administrative savings" and liquidation of assets. The Surrey City Development Corporation, which McCallum said owes the city $70 million, would be eliminated.
McCallum said that if elected his slate would "immediately" close down unlicensed drug rehabs in Surrey.
"We need to shut those down."
He could not commit to not raising taxes, though – noting none of his coalition is privy to city hall’s financial state. "We will be developing a policy and I think the policy will be very clearly that we’re going to trim expenses and we’re going to certainly look at no further taxes."