B.C. pushes ahead with Surrey police transition, announcement expected Tuesday

The B.C. government is pushing ahead with the transition to a municipal police force in Surrey, scheduling another news conference for Tuesday afternoon where it may finally release a date for when the Surrey Police Service (SPS) could take over from the city’s RCMP detachment.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has been promising to give a firm timeline for the transfer of jurisdiction.

Farnworth is also expected to talk about how a $150-million transition funding offer, which has been batted back and forth between the province and Surrey City Hall, will be used.

After Mayor Brenda Locke turned down that offer earlier this month, Farnworth said it would be applied directly to the process.

As Surrey’s current mayor and council continue to fight the transition away from the RCMP, their legal challenge of the process is due to start in court on April 29.

On Monday, Mayor Brenda Locke used the city’s budget approval to suggest that paying for the SPS has handcuffed the ability to deliver new projects.

“As much as we are doing, we wish we could do more. We have been prudent and kept costs as low as we possibly could. New revenues have helped but we have also chosen not to pursue other spending priorities,” Locke said in a statement.

“The fact is, Surrey Police Service is putting a financial strain on our ability to deliver new projects, not to mention SPS exceeded its budget by more than $22 million in 2023.”

Meanwhile, the Surrey Police Service says it has hired another 19 officers and staff this month — the agency now employs 428 people.

“I would like to welcome all of our new Surrey Police Service employees. We are building something special here at SPS and I am thrilled that these individuals have chosen to join us at such an exciting time in our history,” said SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski.

“There will be many more opportunities for police and civilian positions at SPS as the policing transition continues to move forward.”

The idea of the SPS was brought forward back in 2018 by then-Surrey mayor Doug McCallum.

Current Mayor Brenda Locke is adamantly against it and was voted into office on the promise to keep the RCMP.

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