Surrey councillors against police transition hope report will detail cost to taxpayers, fill in blanks

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The details of a 450-page report into the Surrey police transition are expected to be revealed on Thursday.

While it’s been suggested we won’t find out much more on the cost or timeline of Surrey’s move away from the RCMP, some councillors still want their questions answered.

“I’m hoping to see that the report that he’s done is going to be released to the public and to council so that we can take a look at it,” City Councillor Brenda Locke, one of the councillors against the police transition, said, adding the cost taxpayers will be left with is still a concern.

The man tasked with overseeing the project has already given some hints. Former Attorney General Wally Oppal — the chair of the transition task force — gave a brief outline of the report to the Surrey Board of Trade on Wednesday, revealing a cost-analysis study of the move hasn’t been done.

“The public in Surrey are very concerned about [the transition], they are not supportive at all,” she added. “I think that’s pretty clear from a number of polls that have been taken, as well as the city’s very own poll was a clear demonstration. The City of Surrey loves the RCMP and they do not want this transition.”

Councillor Jack Hundial told NEWS 1130 he, too, would like to see the taxpayer costs outlined, but also said he hopes to see the challenges and issues moving forward detailed.

“Such as the HR component, the management of the files, but I go back to the cost, and the inclusivity for residents of Surrey,” he said. “Surrey residents want to have a voice in this transition.”

The survey conducted by the city back in September of 2019 found that a majority of people was in support of the police transition.

“I don’t believe the public consultation piece was a part of Mr. Oppal’s work, but, certainly, that is something for the government to do at this point,” he said. “They’ve received some information now. It’s been very clear through multiple polls and surveys and input provided to the provincial government that Surrey residents want to have a voice, and they want to know what it’s going to cost.”

Hundial noted residents also want to know how long a transition will take, as well as why it’s being done.

“Simply a win on an election should not precipitate such a big move for the residents of Surrey,” he said.

Oppal said on Wednesday that a municipal force will likely cost more than the RCMP, but conceded a Surrey Police force would provide more local control.

Hundial pointed out that at the open dialogue Oppal spoke at, there was little support for a move away from Mounties.

“I think that itself speaks volumes, so I’m sure Mr. Oppal hopefully has taken that back to the provincial government and voiced that concern,” Hundial said. “Surrey residents, on the whole, do not want to have a municipal police force.”

He refuted claims there would be no disruption in police services during a transition.

The task force is not the deciding factor in the city’s transition, but is preparing information for the province to assess. It’s up to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to decide if the city is ready for the change.

Meanwhile, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is set to speak to the media at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

-With files from Ash Kelly

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