Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)

Surrey, B.C., council votes to terminate RCMP contract, revise transit link

Surrey’s new council voted unanimously Monday night to transition to a municipal force

As promised, Mayor Doug McCallum and the new Surrey council have passed a motion to pull out of the RCMP contract and “immediately create a Surrey Police Department,” just minutes after taking the Oath of Office Monday night.

McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, which holds eight of nine seats on Surrey council, tabled and passed the motion at a Nov. 5 meeting immediately following their swearing-in ceremony at city hall.

Surrey First’s Linda Annis, the lone councillor not on McCallum’s slate, also supported the unanimous resolution, saying she would “like to support Mayor McCallum and council as this is one of their major platform issues.”

The move was a promise of McCallum and his team along the campaign trail, which have vowed to introduce a municipal force in the city.

“What city council has done is immediately deliver on the wishes of the people of Surrey,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“It was very clear to me that with all the people I spoke to and heard from that SkyTrain and Surrey establishing its own municipal police force are what is best for our city. As the elected representatives of the citizens of Surrey, we are delivering not just what we promised to do, but we are acting on what the people have said would be best for their city.”

See also: Surrey council unanimously passes motion to ‘cancel ’ LRT

McCallum said Surrey has “outgrown the RCMP,” and estimated the city would have its own municipal force in two years.

He also provided some cost estimates.

McCallum told reporters that a local force will cost an average of $13 million more per year than RCMP, but he says city will save $20 million on this administration costs.

So, he says, “we will come out on the positive.” But, he couched that comment by saying he’s a “realist” and there will likely be other costs.

During a media scrum after the meeting concluded, McCallum said he’s met with B.C.’s Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and described their discussion as “frank” and “firm.”

McCallum read an agreed-upon statement on Farnworth’s behalf, which said he would “accept the City of Surrey wants their own police force, therefore I’ve instructed my staff to work with the City of Surrey staff as they create their transition plan and I am looking forward to receiving it.”

McCallum said that process has already begun and that the “commitment of both the provincial and the federal government is of co-operation with our city as we move forward.”

Before the vote to pull out of the RCMP contract, Councillor Doug Elford said while he has the utmost respect for RCMP officers, he believes it’s “time for a change in our policing model” and that “the community and neighbourhoods have spoken and they tell me they want a safer and more livable community.”

Elford said his vision is “to make Surrey the safest city in Canada.”

Councillor Steven Pettigrew said “we need to take our city back” and this is just one of many steps the newly elected council will take.

Following the vote, Surrey RCMP’s Officer in Charge said he’s “disappointed” in the motion, but that it was expected.

“This is a business decision or a political decision,” said Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald. “You can’t take this personally as an officer. Am I disappointed, personally, yes I am because I think as I’ve said already we provide excellent service and I think our statistics back that up. The declining crime trends that you see, and the significant impact we’ve had on public safety, a lot of the programs we’ve done whether it’s cleaning up 135A, whether it’s our gang enforcement teams, our proactive youth engagement, our community engagement, our diversity, all of those I think are highlights of what a professional police service would provide.”

Asked how he feels about McCallum’s assertion the city has outgrown the RCMP, McDonald said the two “don’t see eye-to-eye on that.”

“I would respectfully disagree with that,” he replied. “We’ll work hand-in-hand with mayor and council to ensure their public safety initiatives are put forth… But I would say when you compare the Surrey RCMP with other large municipal police agencies in terms of number and budget, you’re not going to beat us in terms of getting bang for your buck.”

In the meantime, as Surrey transitions to a municipal force, McDonald said he wants to “reassure the citizens of Surrey that we will continue to provide top notch policing, and that public safety is our number one priority.”

See also: Back in the Saddle: What Surrey can expect from Doug McCallum 2.0

See also: Surrey’s mayor-elect McCallum has big promises to keep

Surrey’s contract with the RCMP, which runs Canada’s largest detachment, was set to expire in 2032 but carried with it a clause that the city can opt out within two years’ notice.

Under the contract, Surrey pays 90 per cent of the RCMP’s cost and the federal government is responsible for 10 per cent. With a new city police force, the city would have to cover the entire cost.

During the election campaign, the Now-Leader asked McCallum how he would achieve that.

“We would re-adjust our budget to cover that,” McCallum told reporter Tom Zytaruk.

See also: McCallum says Trudeau ‘supportive’ of Surrey SkyTrain plans, local police force

On the matter of taxation — everyone’s favourite subject — McCallum said, “We’re going to really look at the finances, because I don’t think they’re in very good shape, at least looking at their balance sheets, they’re not in very good shape.

“We also announced that we would hold any increases, if we need them, that we would hold any increases to the Consumer Price Index. That will be the maximum that we would go to, if we have to go to.”

-With files from Tom Zytaruk



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central Saanich needs at least more than 500 additional daycare spaces

Report before Central Saanich says region faces a ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

Metchosin inmate sentenced to 12 months in jail for escaping custody

Sentence to be served concurrent to a life sentence he was already serving

Sooke jumps on board to ban use of rat poison

City staff will educate residents on harmful effects of rodenticides

Sooke RCMP searching for two people, reported missing on Sept. 10

Alannah Brooke Logan, 20, and Beau Richard Santuccione, 32, last seen on Otter Point Road

Victoria man plans 30-hour walk to raise funds for vulnerable youth

Take a Hike engages youth in intensive, clinical counselling and outdoor experiential learning

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read