Surrey city councillors say secret report on police transition should be released
SURREY, B.C. -- Two former Safe Surrey Coalition city councillors are challenging the party’s leader, Mayor Doug McCallum, to release the full results of a public survey on transitioning from the RCMP to a new city police force.
Independent councillors Jack Hundial and Brenda Locke said there’s no reason the public shouldn’t be able to see the full results of public consultations that took place earlier this year.
Locke said she’s seen the report, but is not allowed to disclose its contents because it has been classified as confidential.
The city held 23 public engagement events last spring to provide information and answer questions about the Surrey Police Force. Over 1,000 surveys were completed at consultation events and a further 10,020 survey responses were completed online. The survey was available on the website www.surreypolice.ca from May 17, 2019 to June 24, 2019.
The questions on the survey were optional: participants could complete only one question, or could complete all questions, or could choose to just complete the open comment field at the end of the survey.
Locke and Hundial say those opened-ended answers have never been shared with the public.
“The raw data will show exactly what the public said about the process,” said. Locke.
The city issued a statement in June saying a full report on the public engagement process was being compiled by staff and would be available in July.
A corporate report from the city’s general manager dated July 18, 2019 is available on the city’s police transition website, but Locke says that report is only a snapshot of residents’ feedback.
“They never released the data and they still have not,” Locke told CTV News.
“I think it’s really important that the public see it, not an interpretation of it by the mayor,” said Locke.
McCallum declined to comment for this story.
“In regard to last spring’s community consultation, the final report of the Citizen Engagement Strategy was released in July,” Oliver Lum, communications manager for the City of Surrey, said in an email.
Hundial said the raw data has not been sent to Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. Staff for the Ministry of Public Safety referred inquiries about the matter to Wally Oppal, a former attorney general the province has appointed to head a Surrey police transition committee.
Oppal told CTV News he hasn't received the data either, and that he doesn't believe it's included in a report that Surrey City Hall decided to forward him late on Monday following the criticism from Hundial and Locke.
Oppal has been meeting with police transition committee since September, and said he's satisfied with the work the committee is doing.
“My job is to ensure that all the material that we have in the committee is considered by us and that we put forth enough material to the director of policing,” said Oppal.
Hundial believes the committee needs to have access to the public feedback before moving forward.
“They’re making some big decisions based on the City of Surrey and as we see every day here, there are more people signing on the petition,” said Hundial referring to the Keep the RCMP Campaign, which has collected more than 30,000 signatures.
Locke and Hundial left the mayor’s party earlier this year after they no longer saw eye-to-eye on key issues like the police force.
The divide in city council was visible at last week’s raucous council meeting, where two separate groups rallied for and against the Surrey Police Force. The meeting was delayed at several points as the mayor tried to bring order to the proceedings.
But the mayor and the remaining four councillors in his coalition did end up passing a budget that provided no funding for new police officers or fire fighters, but earmarked $130 million for the transition to a city police force.
The provincial government approved Surrey’s plan to transition to a municipal force in August. The mayor has said the force will launch in the spring of 2020.