Surrey rejects $250M offer from province to aid police transition, says RCMP will stay

Surrey city council has rejected a $250 million offer from the province to help the city transition to an independent police force, saying it is sticking with the RCMP.

The city had until 4 p.m. PT on Tuesday to accept the deal, according to a statement from B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

It comes months after Farnworth had introduced legislation to force the city to transition from the Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service, a process that is opposed by Surrey’s mayor.

“Mayor Brenda Locke and Surrey city council have failed to act in the best interest of the people of Surrey,” he said in the statement. “Once again, they have demonstrated they want to continue this conflict rather than working together to complete the transition and keep people safe.”

It comes on the same day Surrey city council released its budget, saying if it’s forced to transition away from the RCMP to a local force, it will cost half a billion dollars more over the next decade.

Locke says in a statement that the budget is based on the city staying with the RCMP, and that if it is forced to transition to the independent service, the costs would be much higher. 

She says under the terms of the Surrey Police Service contract, having two officers in each vehicle is mandated and that would mean the city would have to hire at least 200 more officers. 

The city budget proposes a property tax increase of seven per cent, which would include the additional hiring of 26 police officers.

A police officer with the words 'Surrey Police' stands behind a procession of people.
A Surrey Police Service officer participates in the city’s Vaisakhi parade last April. Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke has opposed the transition away from the RCMP to the municipal force. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Farnworth had told reporters at the legislature earlier Tuesday that government and city officials have been negotiating an agreement and an offer was on the table for the city. 

Locke was elected on the promise to reverse the transition to the independent police force and switch back to the RCMP and has rejected the provincial government’s directive that it continue with the transition, which was already well underway when the mayor was elected. 

The city is challenging the provincial order in B.C. Supreme Court, saying in a petition that the change in the Police Act by the government is unconstitutional because it places limits on voters’ freedom of expression.

That constitutional challenge remains before the courts as of Tuesday afternoon.


Posted in CBC