Questions of transparency raised as Surrey spends $1.6-million on police transition team so far

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — A Surrey city councillor says the city has not been transparent in disclosing details around the team that is at the helm of the city’s police transition.

In an FOI NEWS 1130 has obtained, the City of Surrey has spent $1.6-million toward the total wages of staff working on the police transition this year alone.

Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis says City Hall’s transparency on the project is “very disappointing” as costs for the project have not been available to the public.

“One of the things that the mayor ran on was saying that he was going to have an open and transparent City Hall. This is not happening,” she tells NEWS 1130.

Annis explains the $1.6-million is the total spent on 14 full-time staff members on the team but in addition to the wage costs, over $5-million has been spent on other expenses.

“The budget is actually the mayor’s budget for the police transition [and] is aimed at $129.6-million … I think the residents of Surrey are going to expect a huge sticker shock when they go to pay their taxes next year. Taxes have to go up. We have to find money to pay for this transition somewhere, ” she says.

Annis also explains this doesn’t represent the total cost when including part-time employees or contractors that have been brought in.

Annis says the city is operating at a deficit because of the COVID-19 pandemic as many residents lose their jobs and businesses close or lose money, and calls the spending reckless.

“We have $9-million of cash to come up for the change for the LRT to SkyTrain,” she says. “The money is adding up, and it’s got to be paid from somewhere, and I hope not at the expense of residents and business services.”

Annis adds she is “deeply concerned” that residents of Surrey have not been consulted.

“This is a huge burden for them financially; it’s going to affect generations to come. There needs to be a clear and transparent process. More than 43,000 people that live in Surrey have signed a petition saying they don’t want the RCMP to go. There are thousands upon thousands of signs out there saying keep the RCMP,” she says. “People need to be heard. They need to have a voice in it. Clearly, we need to be having a referendum.”

Annis says she will be calling on the province to step in and “show some leadership to help solve this issue.”


– With files from Jonathan Szekeres

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