From left: Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, Surrey First councillor Linda Annis and independent City of Surrey councillor Brenda Locke. (Now-Leader file photos)

Policing transition

Surrey reacts to policing plan getting the green light

Former mayor, councillors and residents weigh in on the Public Safety Minister approving the transition

Reaction to news that the provincial government has given Surrey’s proposed municipal police force the green light came in fast and furiously.

Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts told the Now-Leader that she believes more should have been done to consult with the general public about the policing change.

“The process to date has been behind closed doors and there’s been exclusion of some city councillors,” she said Thursday. “The public consultation piece was an absolute sham, and the cost analysis was never completely done, so the taxpayers never knew how much they’re on the hook for.

Watts said a “critical analysis of the all the issues” hasn’t been done.

“What are you trying to fix, how much is it going to cost, a proper public consultation, and I think there should have been a referendum, because this is a big change,” she said. “The general public needed to know, and still needs to know, how much it’s going to cost and how much they’ll be on the hook for, because it’s not going to be free. We know that, it just will, as much as the mayor says it won’t. The general public still needs to be given a full understanding of the impact of this.”

SEE ALSO: McCallum calls it a great and historic day

READ FULL NEWS STORY: Province approves Surrey police force

SEE MORE: Could Surrey find 800-plus officers for its new force by 2021?


Councillor Brenda Locke – who split from the mayor’s Safe Surrey Coalition earlier this year over his so-called “my-way-or-the-highway approach” – said she figured the approval “was bound to happen.”

“Now it gets real. This is where the rubber hits the road,” she told the Now-Leader. “Now, the people who wrote the report have to fully disclose what they mean. The public has to know what the numbers are. This will now create that place where they can really talk about what the costs are going to look like to the citizens and residents of Surrey. You can’t tell right now.”

Locke said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and the Vancouver Police Department, which helped Surrey develop its transition plan, “are going to have to defend the report they’ve written, because they’ve chosen to be silent until now.”

According to Locke, the “cost implications are going to become very real, very soon.”

Locke also said she hopes the provincial government will “demand meaningful consultation,” saying the consultation that’sgone on thus far “can’t be taken seriously.”

READ ALSO: First look at Surrey’s policing transition report

SEE MORE: Surrey councillor says proposed police force ‘fails’ abused children

Lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis – who had called for a referendum on the transition – issued a statement after Thursday’s announcement saying she is “disappointed that the province hasn’t provided an opportunity for Surrey taxpayers to have their say.” 

“I am hopeful the task force that has been set up will drill down into the details of the proposed new police department and will provide some mechanism for Surrey voters and taxpayers to be heard in a serious way, something that has been missing so far,” the statement read, adding Annis has “always been important to me that the citizens of Surrey have their say in any move from the RCMP to a municipal force.”

Councillor Steven Pettigrew, who also split from the mayor’s Safe Surrey Coalition, said in a statement Thursday he is “dismayed in the provincial government’s decision to give the green light to this transition plan.”

Pettigrew argues that many decision have been made – including a hiring freeze on officers and Public Safety Committee being dissolved by the mayor in favour of a task force focusing on the transition – that “make our city less safe.”

“Some people say that I have not kept my promise to transition to a municipal force, but I will not blindly go down a path that I believe will put our citizens and businesses in jeopardy,” Pettigrew’s statement reads. “I have never been opposed to the possibility of having a municipal police force, but I will only support one if it makes the citizens of Surrey safer and I believe that this plan does not do that. I will continue to challenge any decision that I feel will harm the people of Surrey.”

Pettigrew added that he hopes the people of Surrey know “I have their back, and I will do all that is in my power to make this a better city for all of our families and businesses.”

READ MORE: Four Surrey councillors issue joint statement slamming McCallum’s policing plan

As for those still part of McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, Councillor Doug Elford said there’s a “sense of relief the decision’s finally been made and we can start moving ahead.

“My main objective is to make Surrey a safe, livable community and this is, I think, one of the first steps,” Elford said.

Councillor Allison Patton said leading up to the approval, there was some concern it might not get the green light.

“Things can change minute to minute, hour to hour, on big changes like this,” she said. “Once I knew it was for real, I was ecstatic.”

As for getting the Surrey Police Department up and running by 2021, Patton said she’s hopeful it the timeline can be achieved “as fast as humanly possible.”

“First of all, we were running as a coalition. It wasn’t expected we would be elected; we were. Then we had some large promises… Yet, not even a year out, we’ve already achieved (two),” Patton said, referring to the policing transition and the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension. “I’m pretty impressed, actually. Because of that track record… I feel very good about our energy, our proactivity, the teamwork we’ve been able to display with other levels of government.”

On the Now-Leader’s Facebook page, several commenters expressed their disapproval.

“Sad day for Surrey,” posted Pat Zanon. “We will have higher taxes and less policing and more crime. Very disappointed in the BCNDP decision. I really thought Farnworth would not give the green light.”

Teddi Timlock Rider wrote “obviously they haven’t looked at what the people have to say.”

“Time for an election,” Tom Demke chimed in.

“Huge mistake,” wrote Glen Ritchie.

Others expressed different points of view.

“Congratulations,” wrote Raj Dhillon Singh. “Very good decision mayor.”

Hugh McDonald wrote “it’s disappointing that he was voted in, but he ran with this on his platform & he won. The importance of voting cannot be understated.”

At council’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018 it served notice to the provincial and federal governments that Surrey is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed these parts since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force. Dr. Terry Waterhouse, who has served as Surrey’s general manager of public safety, was appointed by Mayor Doug McCallum to oversee the process.

-With files from Tom Zillich

READ MORE: Surrey councillor says proposed police force ‘fails’ abused children

SEE ALSO: Linda Hepner flunks Surrey’s police transition plan



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey rallies for change in global climate strike

Holland Park event part of marches around the world Sept. 20

Surrey RCMP need help to find missing man

Denis Godard, 64, who was reported missing on Sept. 19

Little library stolen in Clayton Heights

Thieves permanently check out family’s book collection

Surrey council sends back 25-storey highrise proposal, asks for more height and density

Developer says it is ‘currently reviewing direction’ from mayor, council

Cloverdale Community Kitchen hosts ‘learning’ breakfast for students

Coast Capital Savings offered short presentations on financial topics

PHOTOS: Young protesters in B.C. and beyond demand climate change action

Many demonstaers were kids and teens who skipped school to take part

Walmart to quit selling e-cigarettes amid vaping backlash

U.S.’s largest retailer points to ‘growing’ complications in federal, state and local regulations

Former B.C. lifeguard gets house arrest for possession of child porn

Cees Vanderniet of Grand Forks will serve six months of house arrest, then two years’ probation

Crown alleges resentment of ex-wife drove Oak Bay father to kill his daughters

Patrick Weir alleged in his closing arguments that Andrew Berry is responsible for the deaths of his daughters

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

How to react to Trudeau’s racist photos? With humility, B.C. prof says

‘We are now treating racism as a crime that you cannot recover from’

VIDEO: Fire destroys Williams Lake strip club targeted by past arson attempts

Diamonds and Dust Entertainment Lounge destroyed by fire, as well as New World Tea and Coffee House

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

Vancouver police get green light to use drones for investigations

Drones will be used to investigate motor vehicle collisions, crime scene analysis and more

Most Read