Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he thinks the municipal force could be done even “quicker” than two years. (Photo: Amy Reid)

McCallum says Surrey police force may come sooner than two years

Councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial doubt two-year timeline

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he thinks the municipal force could be done even “quicker” than two years, but two councillors are doubting his two-year timeline.

Following the regular council meeting on Wednesday (Dec. 19), McCallum said the “indications” are that the city is moving “very quickly” toward a city police force.

“As you know we are working with the City of Vancouver to help us go forward and by doing that we have speeded up the process. I think, or at least the majority of council feels very comfortable, that we’ll be within that two-year period,” he said.

Given that the VPD is helping Surrey transition to its own force, McCallum said it may be done “quicker” than the two-year timeline. He said the city is getting “a lot warmer reception” from the province, adding that the City of Surrey and the provincial government “are working well together.”

RELATED: City of Surrey asks Vancouver for help with municipal policing transition

READ ALSO: Surrey’s top cop ‘disappointed’ after council votes to pull out of RCMP contract

“I think the process actually is going to be speeded up and could actually be better than the two years,” McCallum said. “They’re co-operating a lot more, they’re meeting with us on a regular basis and they’re working with us so we can get the proper procedures in.”

The Now-Leader has reached out to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General for comment.

Surrey city council formally adopted the controversial budget Wednesday which will see no new cops for the city next year.

RELATED: Surrey needs more Mounties now, city councillor says

Councillor Jack Hundial, a former cop, said earlier this week at this point there’s been a motion in council to switch to a municipal police force to serve notice on the RCMP, adding “that’s all that has happened so far.”

“That still needs to be approved provincially and at other levels of government to make that happen,” he said. “As to when that’s going to happen, I know there’s been some ambitious plans out there that say it’s going to be in two years, but once again, I’d like to see that before me at this point.”

Hundial said he “questions” the two-year timeline.

“I think it is a little ambitious, but certainly, the mayor is responsible for public safety — that does fall in the purview of his office.

He said that “public safety is at risk” with no new Mounties to be hired in Surrey next year, as a result of the budget. Hundial said he think Surrey needs a significantly higher number of officers regardless of which type of police department it has.

“I really question the logic behind not staffing with even an additional 12 members,” Hundial said at Monday’s (Dec. 17) regular council meeting.

Councillor Brenda Locke tweeted after the Dec. 17 meeting, saying, “Rejecting investment in capital projects and public safety is just a false economy and just plain wrong.”

RELATED: Disappointment, frustration after Surrey council votes to approve budget

RELATED: Policing in Surrey – what exactly is the plan?

Prior to the budget deliberations, Locke told the Now-Leader she wasn’t sure the transition to a municipal force can be done in two years.

“I’m not as comfortable with the timeline of two years as they are,” Locke said. “I have never said the two-year piece. I guess that’s something the mayor and Terry (Waterhouse) are talking about. You know, I just want to do it right. I think it’s more important that we do it right and fair and take everything into consideration.”

– with files from Amy Reid and Tom Zytaruk

READ ALSO: Mayor ‘comfortable’ Surrey will be safe with no new cops next year

READ ALSO: Surrey’s top cop says city ‘could be safer’ with more officers

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