BC’s Public Safety Minister writes stern letter to Surrey Mayor to resolve policing matter ‘promptly’

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BC’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has written a strong letter to Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke in which he has asked the mayor to resolve the policing matter as soon as possible. He has also asked the city to provide an actual timeline to resolve this ongoing uncertainty over policing transition.
The letter dated June 1 was sent to various Surrey city council members. It sets a clear tone of Minister Farnworth being unhappy about delaying decision on policing in Surrey by playing blame games.
The letter comes in response to Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke delaying signing of agreement to access confidential copy of Director’s report on policing in Surrey.
According to him just over half of Surrey Council members have signed the confidentiality agreement to access the report on policing in Surrey. He is “gravely concerned that the Council may proceed without considering all relevant information available.” He is of view that it is of utmost importance that each council member “should review and consider the information in confidential report.”
The Province was definitive in its recommendation for SPS and provided evidence-based rationale in a  report prepared by the Director of Police Services to support this direction. But the City of Surrey continued to weigh its options. It was Mayor Locke who pointed that she would not accept a redacted report and demanded access to unredacted copy. The province asked the city staff to sign confidentiality agreement to access the report.

Minister Farnworth pointed that once confidentiality agreement was finalized, “distribution by ministry officials to the city representatives was delayed at City staff request.”

The mayor wrote a letter to Premier David Eby on May 16 also claiming that it was highly unusual for a local government to sign a confidentiality agreement. To which Minister Farnworth stats, “In fact, confidentiality agreements are a commonly used tool by the provincial government to support the sharing of confidential and sensitive information.”

Minister Farnworth explains in the letter why on first place a redacted report was sent. He said, “It contains confidential information that outlines police operations, information regarding intergovernmental relations, and information on the federal, provincial and municipal business lines within the RCMP. The safeguarding of this sensitive information is paramount to public safety.”

He said that at no point did the ministry officials negotiate with the City staff on what information would remain redacted or would be released in the report.

Minister Farnworth states that just over half of the City Council has signed the agreement. The Public Safety Farnworth has expressed deep concern over the implications of City’s decision on policing if it is proceeded without considering all relevant information available in the report.

The Minister also confirmed in the letter one more time that the province is ready to provide $150 million to the City to assist in completing the transition to Surrey Police Service. And he clearly emphasised that the provincial funding is only available to City if it continues with the transition. “If the City of Surrey choose to retain RCMP as its service provider, the City will be fully responsible for the fiscal, operational and all other consequences of that decision, without monetary support from the province,” the letter states.

The minister has asked the city to advise him the date by which all members of the Council will sign and return the confidentiality agreement. The minister in the letter has also asked for a “commitment from the City that the mandatory condition, requirements, and financial implications for the applicable police model will be met.
A date by which the city council intends to decide on this matter has also been asked by the Minister.
“I look forward to working with you and City staff resolve this matter promptly. I know we share the same goal of ending the long period of uncertainty for the people of Surrey and ensuring the safety and security of Surrey, and the well-being of those police officers that serve your community,” the letter mentions.