Deadline for Surrey to accept B.C.’s $150M police transition funding looms

Time is running out for the City of Surrey to accept B.C.’s offer of $150 million to help with the police transition.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told reporters Tuesday the deadline is at 4 p.m.

This comes the same day Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke announced a proposed property tax increase of seven per cent as part of the city’s 2024 budget.

The budget, however, does not include transition costs.

The province previously offered Surrey $150 million over five years to help with costs associated with dropping the RCMP and moving toward the Surrey Police Service. However, as of mid-March, the city had yet to accept that funding.

Reports last month suggested the province offered even more money to help with the process, though Premier David Eby has refuted those suggestions.

“The City of Surrey’s transition reversal plan identified a cost difference of about $30 million a year between the Surrey RCMP and the SPS,” the B.C. government says on its website.

The province says the millions offered are to “help ensure additional costs are not passed to Surrey residents and businesses through high tax increases.”

Despite this, Surrey residents and businesses faced a massive property tax increase in last year’s budget, of 12.5 per cent. Initially, the city proposed a hike of 17.5 per cent, however, Surrey opted to use the Growing Communities Fund — a provincial fund — to bring the increase down.

Most of last year’s tax increase was budgeted to pay for policing services.

More to come.

-With files from Charlie Carey