Report on transitioning Surrey to local police force completed, mayor says
An SUV marked 'Surrey Police' is seen outside the Civic Hotel.
CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2019 4:45PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 23, 2019 12:57PM PDT
The City of Surrey says it has completed a report detailing how it plans to convert its municipal RCMP force to a local police force.
The promise to create a Surrey police department was a campaign promise from Mayor Doug McCallum to help battle the gang and gun violence across the suburban city.
"The completion of the Policing Transition Report is a landmark moment for the City of Surrey as it marks an important step in bringing local accountability to the citizens of Surrey," McCallum said in a statement.
"I am confident that our plan fully details how we will successfully transition to a city police department and I look forward to hearing back from the solicitor general."
Despite McCallum's optimism, the concept has faced criticism.
The city earlier decaled a city vehicle to look like a police car and made a video using stock photos of American police officers digitally altered to be from Surrey, drawing criticism from a city councillor.
"This is not a good sales pitch when you’re spending other people’s money," said Annis after the mayor’s 2019 State of the City Address.
Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts also claimed she heard the city was exploring city land, taking money from a homeless and housing fund and diverting funds from other social programs to cover the cost.
"It’s hundreds of millions of dollars, no doubt about it," she said.
But McCallum's plan has drawn support from neighbouring communities.
Vancouver and Surrey reached an agreement to help Surrey transition to a municipal police force back in February.
"It's kind of looking at what the structure of the department would look like, any other advice at that level that the city would want," Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said at the time.
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth confirmed the province had received Surrey's proposal, but added that the process wouldn’t be rushed.
"Surrey's proposal for an independent police department is a statutory process that deals with many complex issues, so it will be important not to rush this," he said in a statement.
"Staff will now review and provide advice to me in my role as Solicitor General to determine the next steps -- taking into consideration the thoroughness of the plan."
Farnworth also indicated his desire to have the report released to the public in the coming weeks.
In the release, McCallum said the city will now move ahead with public engagement sessions.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Jon Woodward