Mayor's police plan 'will make Surrey less safe,' says councillor leaving party
A Surrey city councillor says concerns with the mayor's plan to transition away from RCMP prompted him to leave the party altogether.
Coun. Jack Hundial announced his departure from the Safe Surrey Coalition in a statement emailed to media early Thursday morning.
- Watch a one-on-one interview: Why councillor is leaving Safe Surrey Coalition
The release said Hundial ran under the party's banner because his main priority was creating a safer Surrey.
"We can make it happen, but it should be a community project, with community input. The mayor has not been open to public input," he wrote.
The former Mountie said he issue with a report on the transition from RCMP to a municipal force that was produced by the mayor's office with input from the Vancouver Police Department.
"I am sure Vancouver would not accept less police officers for more money, why should Surrey?" he wrote of Mayor Doug McCallum's plans for a municipal police force.
He wrote that McCallum was elected in part on a promise of the new force with just a 10 per cent increase in cost.
"In doing so, it is sacrificing both the quality of the programs we have and the number of police officers that we have today. This will make Surrey less safe. This is the opposite of what people want," Hundial wrote.
In an interview with CTV News following the announcement, he said his decision was based mostly on two factors.
"One was the cancellation of the public safety committee here in Surrey, and the other one is just – the more I read through that 180-page report – is just the things that are lacking from that report, that doesn't serve the City of Surrey well as far as an overall public safety plan."
Reaction from Surrey's mayor
CTV News reached out to McCallum for an interview regarding Hundial's departure.
In an emailed statement, he did not provide any comment on Hundial or the other councillors, but told CTV News that the party takes its pledge to voters seriously.
"The majority we have on council is solid and strongly united," he said.
"I can assure you the Safe Surrey Coalition is now even more focused and energized to deliver on what we promised to the voters of Surrey. We have already delivered on the majority of what we campaigned on and we are moving fully ahead in completing the promises that we made to the people of Surrey."
Safe Surrey Coun. Allison Patton is adamant she has every faith in McCallum.
"I find Mayor McCallum to be an excellent leader and somebody who I admire and who I've learned from. Personally I would have been tougher on my colleagues than he's been," she told CTV.
Patton believes Hundial planned to leave the party from the start.
"I wasn't surprised. A wise person once told me that you have to let the anchors go in your life and I think one of our anchors has just gone from our life, so I'm pretty happy about it actually."
She says Surrey residents shouldn't be concerned about the recent turmoil within the party.
"I hope the citizens can rest easy. I think our city is a really intelligent city and I think people will see through political antics and they will look at the track record," Patton said.
Previous complaints about the SSC
Hundial told CTV News back in June that he felt the mayor was trying to centralize power in his chair, rather than allowing councillors to raise motions that are followed by a vote.
"In the city of Surrey, nine people were elected and trying to stifle the voting in a certain manner by manipulating procedures or not having a transparent agenda makes it really difficult," he said at the time.
He was one of several councillors that voiced concerns and displeasure with the mayor's handling of city affairs in late June. Two other councillors, Brenda Locke and Linda Annis, also raised issues.
Just two days after that interview, Locke announced she was leaving the party.
After Locke left, Hundial told CTV on June 27 that he was re-evaluating his future with the coalition but had not yet decided if he would leave.
Following Hundial's announcement Thursday, she told CTV she was glad he made up his mind.
"Certainly it's a difficult place to work, with the mayor, so I completely understand why he made the decision he made," Locke said.
Though she's no longer part of the party she ran with during the most recent municipal election, she said she continues to work for "every citizen of Surrey."
Coun. Steven Pettigrew also left the SSC, choosing in May to sit as an independent instead.
"As elected officials we need to be accountable to the public and there is no accountability right now," Pettigrew told CTV News when asked about the issues at city hall. "That’s something I’m really concerned about."
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Sheila Scott in Surrey