‘Offer on the table’ with new money to push Surrey police transition forward: Public safety minister

The B.C. government is looking to sweeten the deal to get the Surrey police transition done once and for all. Kier Junos has the latest.

The B.C. government is looking to sweeten the deal to get the Surrey police transition done once and for all.

According to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province is in discussions with the city and “there is an offer on the table.”

“We hope to reach an agreement that works for people in Surrey,” Farnworth’s statement reads. “We look forward to having more to say soon.”

He tells reporters that new offer includes additional funding, though he would not confirm how much.

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However, according to BC Conservative Leader John Rustad, the province is putting up an additional $110 million — on top of the already-promised $150 million.

“My understanding as well is that the province has done some engagement, I don’t know what the results of that are, but to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any agreement reached,” he told CityNews Wednesday.

“I think the thing that is most disturbing, from my perspective, and I’m sure from the people in Surrey, is that none of this is being done in public. This is all being done behind closed doors and the people in Surrey are obviously concerned and interested in knowing what sort of discussions have gone on and what the province is putting on the table.”

The police transition has been ongoing since former Mayor Doug McCallum began the switch.

Farnworth directed the City of Surrey last July to move forward with the transition from the RCMP to a municipal force. Since that time, Mayor Brenda Locke has put forward legal challenges to try to stop the transition. The province also introduced legislative changes to the Police Act last year, to ensure a similar saga doesn’t play out again if and when municipalities decide to undergo a police transition.

In a statement Wednesday, Locke confirmed the city is in talks with the government but would not provide any further details.

“Otherwise, there has been no change in the legal action the City of Surrey is taking against the province. A court date has been set for April 29 and our legal team continues to prepare the case,” she added.

The $150 million the province has already offered is meant to help offset costs associated with moving ahead with the Surrey Police Service.

Rustad brought up his concerns about the additional funding in question period Wednesday.

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