First meeting of Surrey Police Board to create city police force Thursday
SURREY, B.C. -- The first-ever police board meeting for Surrey, B.C., will be held today as the city moves ahead with a controversial plan to replace the local RCMP detachment with its own police service.
Mayor Doug McCallum won election on the campaign promise to create a municipal police force in 2018 and the newly elected city council voted to terminate Surrey's contract with the RCMP.
The B.C. government approved the change in February and appointed the board in June to oversee the new police service in Surrey, one of the province's fastest-growing cities.
But the process caused a rift in the mayor's own civic political party as three members resigned from the Safe Surrey Coalition last year, citing concerns about costs of the new service and McCallum's approach.
A 450-page report by former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal concluded the shift to a civic police force would increase the operating budget by 10.9 per cent in 2021, taking into account the loss of federal subsidies and achieving wage parity with the Mounties.
That's on top of millions of dollars in one-time capital investments Surrey must make in order to set up the new police department that's expected to “go live” on April 1 next year.
Oppal's report says Surrey is an outlier as the only municipality in Canada with more than 300,000 residents that doesn't have its own police force, which would allow the city to better adapt to the community's unique needs and growth.
Among the first items on the agenda today is a motion to create the Surrey Police Service, followed by committee assignments. The next board meeting is set for Sept. 15.
A release from the police board says its nine members are tasked with hiring a chief constable, setting policies, overseeing the service's budget and assuming responsibility for any complaints.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 6, 2020.