Surrey mayor vows to ‘stop the NDP police service’ with new legal challenge
Posted November 20, 2023 8:46 am.
Last Updated November 20, 2023 8:53 pm.
Days after the B.C. government suspended the Surrey Police Board and appointed an administrator to move the transition to a civic police force along, the mayor says Surrey is launching a new legal challenge to “stop the NDP police service.”
In a news conference, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says the city is filing an “additional petition” in court Monday “that will outline where we are moving to.”
Locke says the move is a “significant step” to stop the policing transition and stop the provincial government’s “attempted police takeover which would require double-digit NDP tax hike on Surrey taxpayers.”
“We are challenging the constitutionality of the province’s latest legislation. Surrey voters deserve to have their voices heard,” Locke said.
That legislation, tabled in October, included changes to the Police Act that would ensure that once a “transition plan is approved by the minister, the municipality has a legal obligation to complete the transition,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth explained at that time.
The city had previously launched legal proceedings in October in the Supreme Court of B.C., asking for a judicial review of Farnworth’s order, made in July, to continue with the municipal police force transition. Surrey’s latest petition will now look specifically at the constitutionality of the legislation.
“Before the municipal election, the province said choosing a police force was the city’s decision. So, my team and I ran on a platform that was clear. We would stop the police transition and keep the RCMP in Surrey,” Locke explained Monday.
“After the municipal election, the province said that we had the option to put forward a plan to keep the RCMP. It is now clear that the province had other plans in mind.
“This government does not have the right to run roughshod on every local government that doesn’t bend to their will.”
Locke says she understands the serious nature of filing the additional petition, saying that “this is a serious choice to make” and the city is “sticking with that.”
She says she’s not “digging in my heels” but that she will “fight for Surrey taxpayers every single day.”
“We know that the costs are incredible,” Locke said. “This is about affordability in our city. And I can tell you a double-digit tax increase for my residents is not affordable. And I am concerned for families, young families, seniors, everybody that is ordinary citizens that are going to be dramatically, dramatically impacted by this NDP tax on Surrey.”
Locke claims Surrey residents could be looking at a 20 per cent tax increase if the transition to the civic Surrey Police Service (SPS) continues. “This is a decision that isn’t going to just impact us today. Tomorrow, five years from now. This is 10 years. And beyond this is going to impact generations to come,” she said.
“This is absolutely a tragedy. I think that citizens in Surrey absolutely do deserve better. I hear from them every day. They’re concerned about affordability, and this is a significant impact on affordability.”
Locke says she understands some residents want the transition to the SPS to continue but notes the provincial government’s moves to change the Police Act is “not that.”
“This is not a municipal police force we’re looking at right now, this is a provincial imposition on the citizens and the residents and taxpayer of Surrey. That’s not what the voters asked for.”
Locke claims the City of Surrey has yet to see a police transition plan from the province after providing the government with its own plan to keep the RCMP as the police force of jurisdiction.
She says she’s starting to hear from other mayors around the region who are “concerned” that the SPS is being “imposed on Surrey.”
“It’s going to also impact every other city in this province. Whether they’re an RCMP jurisdiction, or they’re a municipal jurisdiction, they are going to have cost implications on their budgets because of this decision by the solicitor general and premier,” Locke said.