VANCOUVER -- The Surrey Police Service is one step closer to replacing the RCMP in B.C.'s second-largest city after hiring a chief of police, according to multiple CTV News sources.

CTV News sources tell us the Surrey Police Board has hired Norm Lipinski, currently the deputy chief of the Delta Police Department, to be the first chief of the city's new municipal police force.

Lipinski has experience being both a Mountie and a municipal police officer. He spent years with the Edmonton Police Service before moving to the rank of assistant commissioner with the RCMP’s E Division in British Columbia, and then to his current role in Delta.

Now, he will be tasked with leading a department that Surrey Mayor and police board chairman Doug McCallum has said he hopes to have operational by April 1.

Replacing the Surrey RCMP with a municipal force was a signature promise of McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition during the 2018 election, but it has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since.

Multiple city councillors left McCallum's party over the mayor's handling of the transition, among other issues, and warning the switch will cost millions more than McCallum has promised.

Opponents of the transition have been especially vocal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing now is not the appropriate time to switch from Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Jon Woodward