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Q+A with Surrey mayor: Gang violence the worst it's ever been, McCallum says
A week after two shootings in residential neighbourhoods, many residents of Surrey, B.C. have questions for a leader who campaigned on making the city safer.
The mayor of B.C.'s second most populous city joined CTV Morning Live in Vancouver Monday to talk about his first year back in office, including what he's doing to cut down on violent crime.
Doug McCallum's interview followed two shootings in his city in a three-day span. A man died early Friday morning after being shot inside a home, and a man injured in an afternoon shooting near schools and daycares Wednesday is the subject of a public safety alert.
McCallum was asked about crime in his city, including the recent shootings, and whether a municipal police force will make a difference.
The below answers have been edited for brevity. Watch the full nine-minute interview with CTV's Jason Pires and Keri Adams for more.
In your years of public service, is this the worst it's been in Surrey?
"Certainly I think this is the worst in terms of gangs that are shooting each other… A lot of the past was centred around Newton but now it's starting to spread throughout Surrey, so people feel very, very unsafe in the community because a lot of these have happened in broad daylight," McCallum said.
Do you think this adds some weight to your push to bring in a municipal police force?
"I've seen a lot of people in the community now, especially in South Surrey and Fraser Heights, that say to me very clearly at all the events I go to, 'Let's get it as fast as we can. We need it in here right now.' So the awareness of people in Surrey as far as the new police force is very evident, and what I get is we need to move a lot faster to get the officers into our community."
What you're saying is Surrey RCMP aren't doing enough to curb violence?
"Well, I think the RCMP have done a good job over the years, but in the (2018 municipal) election, as we listened to residents, it's time. We're the only large city in all of Canada that doesn't have our own police force… There's new models out there now, and I think when we have our own city police we'll apply a lot of those new models. A lot of it is more officers in the street.
"When you ask city police departments around Canada… they say policing has changed in the last 10 years. It's changed to more social issues addressing, like, drugs and mental illness and so forth. We need to have the new police as quick as we can."
What about the cost? Are taxes going to go up in Surrey to pay for the police force?
"Taxes aren't going up… The taxes for the next four years will be at the Consumer Price Index – it currently is at 2.9 – and so our budget for next year is already being developed and the increases in taxes will be around 2.9 per cent.
"The cost of our own police, interestingly enough, will not cost us, operating-wise, any more money because just a few weeks ago the RCMP announced that they're going to be unionized across Canada, and in fact they're in collective agreement now. When that collective agreement's finished then the wages for RCMP will be very similar to, for example, Vancouver police. So that cost factor now has become even with the RCMP."
McCallum was also questioned about councillors choosing to leave his party within months of the election, his stance on ride-hailing versus taxis and extending the SkyTrain instead of light-rail transit. Watch the full interview for his responses.