Surrey should delay its police transition due to outbreak, city councillor says
SURREY -- Surrey city councillor Linda Annis was against the transition to a municipal police force before the COVID-19 outbreak. Now, she says, she’s even more concerned.
“We’re in a crisis right now in B.C., Canada and throughout the world,” Annis said. “This not the time for us to be changing badges for the sake of changing badges.”
Annis points to the economic hardship many people in Surrey and other Lower Mainland municipalities are dealing with right now, with business closing down and laying off employees.
The City of Surrey itself has temporarily let go of 140 full-time staff members at Surrey libraries.
“People are unemployed, worrying about rent, mortgage payments and something as simple as putting food on the table for their families,” Annis added.
She said the city needs to be focusing on providing that kind of service to people now, not focusing on the transition to a new police force.
Surrey mayor Doug McCallum’s plan is to have the force running by this time next year, at a cost of $192-million in its first 12 months.
On Sunday, the city said it needed more time before it could officially announce whether COVID-19 would impact the transition, but a Surrey resident shared an email with CTV News that hinted a possible response.
The email, signed by the Surrey Policing Transition Team and dated March 17, reads, in part, “at this time there is no impact from COVID-19 on the delivery of the policing transition project.”
In a statement emailed to CTV News Vancouver, Hope Latham, a communications staff with the Ministry of Public Safety, said there are currently no plans to delay the process.
"The establishment of a new police board will take place over the coming months," she said. "There is no direction from the Minister to change course. As with all local government work, (public health officer) guidelines for meetings apply."
Meanwhile, Annis said she will continue to call on the province to order a referendum on the transition.