City of Surrey, province finalize agreement on policing transition

The B.C. government and the City of Surrey have reached an agreement that will complete the transition from the Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service. Part of the agreement includes provincial funding of up to $250M over 10 years.

After many years of back-and-forth debate, negotiation, and courtroom battles, the province and Surrey say they’ve reached an agreement on the future of policing the city.

“The B.C. government and the City of Surrey have reached an agreement that will complete the transition to the Surrey Police Service (SPS) by providing oversight, accountability, and cost mitigation for residents and businesses in Surrey,” the province said in a release Wednesday.

Both sides have reached an agreement that will see the B.C. government give the City of Surrey $30 million a year to cover transition costs up to 2029.

The province says it will also offer a guarantee of as much as $20 million if costs are higher from 2029 to 2034. 

“Surrey fully supports the transition, agrees that a separate police tax is not necessary, and will provide space, funding, and payroll for the SPS,” the province said.

The city will get a total of $250 million in funding from the province to switch over from the RCMP.

In a statement, Mayor Brenda Locke says the new funds from the province will help to lessen the financial impact of the transition to Surrey taxpayers. Much of her statement focused on the RCMP as Locke praised their efforts in policing the city.

“Through integrated policing units, such as IHIT, RCMP will continue to support the people of Surrey. As we go through this process, council will be constantly working in the best interests of Surrey taxpayers,” said Locke. 

FOI Reveals Surrey spent $1.2M on judicial review

The agreement comes after the B.C. Supreme Court handed Locke a legal defeat in her fight to keep the RCMP in Surrey. The City of Surrey sought a judicial review after the province ordered the City to move ahead with the police transition. The courts found the province did have the authority to make that move.

Shortly after the legal proceedings concluded, CityNews filed a Freedom of Information request to learn how much money Surrey spent on that legal challenge.

“The invoices received by the City for legal fees in relation to the judicial review of the Province’s decision to impose the Surrey Police Service on the City total $1,283,065.99 (including fees, disbursements and GST),” Surrey’s FOI analyst Karen Dyck said.

CityNews also requested to know the costs of other expenses, like transportation. The City says it’s currently in the process of compiling that information.

Meanwhile, the province told CityNews that “upwards of $100,000 in staff time” was spent on the judicial review.

“Significant Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General staff time and associated costs as well as legal costs through the Ministry of Attorney General were expended as a result of the City’s litigation,” the Minstry of Public Safety said in a statement to CityNews.

“For example, the Ministry’s Police Model Transition team estimates that it spent approximately half of its time, over the course of the last 6 months focused on supporting litigation counsel on this matter. While these costs were not specifically tracked, they are estimated to be upwards of $100,000 in staff time. Importantly, this is time that would have otherwise been spent of advancing the transition.”

The province says the full transition is on track to be completed in late 2026. 

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