No decision yet on fate of Surrey police transition: B.C. public safety minister
The mayor of Surrey will have to wait a little longer to find out if the transition from the RCMP to a municipal force will be halted, according to B.C.'s public safety minister.
Mike Farnworth issued a statement Thursday saying officials have received and reviewed submissions from the city, the Mounties, and the fledgling Surrey Police Service on the question of who will police the province's fastest-growing city – but that more information is needed.
"It's clear that considerable work has gone into developing these plans and reports, and I appreciate their timely submission," he said in a statement.
"The director of police services has determined that additional information is required to inform further consideration of the matter and has made a request to the parties for that information."
One of Mayor Brenda Locke's key campaign promises was to keep the RCMP in Surrey and bring an end to the transition initiated by her predecessor.
Locke responded to Thursday's update with a statement of her own, questioning the need for the delay and calling on the province to let Surrey move forward with its plans.
In the meantime, officers from both the RCMP and the SPS remain on the job.
"The longer two police agencies are operating with this uncertainty, the more taxpayer dollars are being unnecessarily spent," Locke wrote.
"The city is ready to act. The province needs to do the right thing and confirm the city has the right to this decision."
Locke noted that council has already approved the plan to keep the Surrey RCMP, and said the city believes it can do so "in a more cost-effective and timely way" than proceeding with the transition.
Speaking to media on Thursday, she reaffirmed her belief that the SPS is too expensive for the city. Locke said the lack of decision is preventing council from creating a budget for the upcoming year.
"The government knows full well our timelines for doing budgeting and we need to get that underway,” she said. “The cost for the Surrey Police Service is extraordinary.”
The repercussions from the delayed decision is something Surrey’s Board of Trade is also flagging.
“We’re being held as economic hostages as it relates to this decision,” said Anita Huberman, the board’s president and CEO.
Taxpayers are on the hook for two police forces until a decision is made.
"The business community always bears the greatest burden of taxation so we will not know what our property tax bill will be and how to prepare for that,” said Huberman.
SPS declined a request for an interview from CTV News following the announcement, saying it’s “looking to avoid the back-and-forth political conflict while the consequential policing decision is being made by the province.”
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