Two Surrey councillors are unhappy with Thursday’s confirmation that the Surrey police force will be going ahead, but Safe Surrey councillors are excited about the news.
Thursday morning, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum confirmed that the city’s police force will go ahead, replacing the Surrey RCMP.
Farnworth gave approval for the city to create a municipal police board, the next stage in the transition plan.
McCallum called it “day one” of the Surrey Police Department.
McCallum says he’s “really really excited to be here today.” Says it’s day one of the Surrey police force. #SurreyBC
— Lauren Collins (@laurenpcollins1) February 27, 2020
Councillors Steven Pettigrew and Linda Annis both said they were “very disappointed” following a news conference with McCallum.
Pettigrew said he is “very disappointed in the province” because they “didn’t listen to the people of Surrey.”
Pettigrew said, “We are here to be a voice for the people. We are here to serve the people. We have to listen to what they say. That hasn’t been done here and that’s a great tragedy today.”
He said he thinks the community is “going to be upset.”
“I’ve been all over the city for the last year, meeting with scores of different groups, and the vast, vast majority of the people that i’ve been talking to are not in favor of this transition and they’re very upset that they haven’t been listened to.”
Annis told the Now-Leader she feels the city should’ve held a referendum, adding that the municipal force is “only going to cost residents an awful lot more.”
“It’s very unfortunate that we’re spending $129.6 million on the transition alone and this money could go into very badly needed recreation centres, community centres, staffing the firefighters and getting a meditruck here as well as hiring more RCMP members. I don’t think it’s good use of money.”
Annis said she was also “very disappointed” because Surrey residents “have been speaking loud and clear that they don’t want the transition and, clearly, their voices weren’t heard.”
“At the very least, we should’ve done a referendum.”
She said she didn’t “buy what the mayor was saying that he got a mandate to do this because he won the election.”
“If you look at really what happened in the election, the Surrey first split and put up to mayoralty candidates and they actually got more votes (combined) than the mayor did,” said Annis, referring to McCallum’s comments that Safe Surrey Coalition “won the election on our city police force.”
McCallum said, “That’s why politicians run. They put their programs out, they get elected, they stay with it, they vote on it, and they achieve it. That’s what our residents want. I named the councillors that did that.
“We went through a very difficult election, but we wiped out an entire council with new people. Those people listened to our community.”
During his news conference, he thanked councillors Allison Patton, Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra and Mandeep Nagra for their “integrity, for staying true to your word and for staying true, especially, to the people who cast a ballot for you.”
Patton said she feels like she can “breathe a bit of a sigh of relief that we achieved this.”
While Elford says today’s news is “fantastic” and historic.”
“This represents a fundamental shift in how Surrey goes about doing things. It’s just the beginning, there’s more to come,” Elford said.
“We’re relevant in the region. We need a force to reflect that. I’m really, really happy because it does provide transparency for the citizens. It gives the citizens the ability to contribute to a police board. They were saying we’ve never had that before, now you have a police board to go to, and reflect and speak about your issues. In a sense, we’re creating transparency for our citizens and that’s really important.”
Asked if she thought the Surrey police force might not go ahead, Guerra said she “never worried” about that.
We promised that we would cancel the RCMP contract and move to a municipal force. And, promise made, promise kept. We did it,” Guerra said.
Meantime, the Surrey Board of Trade says it’s also disappointed by the police board approval.
Anita Huberman, CEO of SBOT, said the transition “will create additional costs” to the B.C. Government, not considered in the 2020 budget.
“The key aspects of a transition plan have not been thoroughly considered which includes costing, labour, training and also public feedback,” Huberman said.