Surrey RCMP comments from mayor misleading, councillors claim

A pair of city councillors are calling for Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke to say sorry after her most recent comments about policing in that city.

On Wednesday, Locke issued a statement saying the Metro Vancouver Mayor’s Committee “unanimously supports retaining Surrey RCMP,” following a motion that was brought forward by Delta Mayor George Harvie.

“It is clear the uncertainty of policing in Surrey extends beyond our borders,” her statement went on to say.

However, a day later there’s some pushback to that statement.

“The Mayor’s Committee did not vote on a motion to keep the RCMP in Surrey,” Councillor Doug Elford said in a statement. “In fact, the Mayor’s Committee passed a motion for the MVRD Board to send a letter to the province urging a quick decision on the City of Surrey’s request to keep the RCMP in Surrey.”

Elford clarifies the motion had nothing to do with siding with either the Surrey RCMP or the Surrey Police Service (SPS), but to get a final decision on the matter sooner than later.

Councillor Mandeep Nagra is disappointed.

“We believe that public officials should be held to a high standard of transparency and accountability and issuing false information for your own political agenda undermines that trust.”

Nagra also wants Locke to apologize to the media for “issuing a false press release.”

The exterior of Surrey, B.C. City Hall

The exterior of Surrey, B.C. City Hall on Monday March 6th, 2023. (CityNews Image)

CityNews has reached out to the Surrey Mayor’s Office and Public Safety Ministry for comment. The Delta Mayor’s Office says, “We don’t typically comment on committee recommendations until matters have been considered and a decision is rendered by the Board.”

The committee says the motion won’t be considered until the Apr. 28 meeting.

The controversial transition

Locke has been steadfast in her desire to scrap former Mayor Doug McCallum’s plan to switch from the RCMP to a municipal force and used it during last fall’s civic election campaign.

The transition from one police department to another has been in place for about two years and the plan in its entirety was shaken when Locke won the top job in Surrey.

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A final decision from Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was supposed to come down earlier this year, but it’s since been delayed until the spring.

Currently, members of both the RCMP and SPS patrol Surrey. Due to the higher costs of having two active police departments, Surrey City Council this week approved a 12.5 per cent property tax hike.

B.C. has not made a decision yet

In a statement to CityNews Friday, B.C.’s ministry of public safety said a decision on the police transition will be announced by the end of this month, “before City of Surrey tax notices are issued.”

“The policing transition in Surrey is unprecedented and complex and requires a full and in-depth-analysis,” the ministry said.

“The matter affects not only policing in Surrey but across the province,” it added. “The stability of policing is a provincial responsibility, and public safety in the City of Surrey and throughout British Columbia continues to be government’s core driving principle.”

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