At least three Surrey councillors say they have now laid eyes on the city’s proposed policing transition plan from RCMP to a municipal force.
“We don’t have a copy of the transition plan, but we saw it. We had a brief opportunity to see it,” said Councillor Brenda Locke on Wednesday morning, after a special two-hour closed-door meeting at city hall.
Councillor Jack Hundial said he’s seen it, as well.
But, neither would discuss details of the plan.
Asked to share her initial reactions, Locke only said “the public deserves to see the full accounting and the full report.”
“What I can say is I support the public having a full and transparent opportunity to view the report, and then have full consultation based on that…. This is a decision of a generation. This is critically important,” she added.
JUST IN: Two #SurreyBC councillors say they've now had a "brief" opportunity to review the policing plan – but don't have a copy.
They were tight-lipped when asked to share their thoughts, but repeat calls for plan to be released to residents.
— Amy Marie Reid (@amyreid87) May 22, 2019
Locke and Hundial would not reveal the cost impacts outlined in the plan for a new force, but both stressed that it should be released to residents.
“I strongly wish the public will have the opportunity to review this report in its entirety and make their own determination,” said Hundial, who tabled a motion at the city’s last Public Safety Committee meeting to have the report released. “I would say residents need to continue to advocate what’s in the best interests of their community to all levels of government.”
Locke echoed that.
“The public needs to communicate their thoughts and concerns to all three levels of government.”
Neither Locke nor Hundial could say if the report has yet been submitted to the provincial government for approval.
Lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis also told the Now-Leader Wednesday that she has now seen the report.
“I’m very disappointed in that the report has been done in total secrecy,” said Annis. “Council has not been privy to providing any input to the report or seeing it as it’s been developed. More importantly, I feel this report should not be kept in secret from the residents in Surrey. We’re beginning consultation tomorrow. How can we consult with the public when they don’t know what’s in the report?”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was not immediately available for comment, but is expected to release a statement Wednesday afternoon.
On May 7, the showcasing of a “Surrey Police” car outside McCallum’s State of the City Address raised eyebrows as the provincial government has not yet approved city council’s plan to transition from the RCMP to a made-in-Surrey police force.
During his speech that day, McCallum reaffirmed his commitment to the transition, a move he said takes “political courage” and is a “political minefield.”
He also unveiled a website, surreypolice.ca, which he says will allow residents to provide input into the creation of the force.
“In the coming weeks we will be asking our residents to tell us which priorities they want to see for their new city police and help guide it into the future,” said McCallum at the time, telling the audience Surrey Police officers would be “patrolling our streets by July 2020.”
Meantime, the City of Surrey is set to embark on public engagement this week. The first in a series of public events is planned at Cloverdale rec centre (6188 176th St.) on Thursday, May 23 from 3 to 7 p.m.
“Residents will be able to learn more about the transition process and offer their input as to which priorities they want to see in shaping the Surrey Police Department,” a City of Surrey release notes.