City rejects province offer of $250 million to help policing transition in Surrey

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SURREY: There is still no light at the end of the tunnel for the people of Surrey when it comes to policing transition in the city from RCMP to Surrey Police Service (SPS). BC’s Public Safety Mike Farnworth informed in a statement that Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke had rejected the province’s offer of $250 million for the coming years to address policing-related tax hikes concerns of the city.
He said that in January of this year, the City of Surrey asked the Province to negotiate an agreement to help them complete the transition to SPS, resolve the conflict, provide certainty and support the people of Surrey. In the interest of moving forward, we negotiated in good faith to provide the city with the reassurance they told us they needed. Unfortunately, it’s clear that Mayor Locke and Surrey city council would rather drag this out for years to come, instead of working together to do what’s best for people and businesses in Surrey.”
Farnworth told that Surrey had until 4 p.m. on April 9 to accept the funding promised to help further the transition.
Farnworth said, “The city rejected an agreement that included a 10-year financial commitment: $150 million over five years, plus added assurance that if SPS officers were more expensive than RCMP officers in 2029, the Province would cover the difference every year for another five years to 2034 – up to $20 million per year. This agreement would have given people certainty that there would be no reason for police-related tax increases for at least a decade.”
Since the city has rejected financial support for the people of Surrey, Farnworth said the Province will use the $150 million to support the transition directly until it is completed. “Any additional costs that end up getting passed on to the people of Surrey are the result of the failure of the mayor and council.”
He asserted that there is a plan in place for the continued transition to the SPS, despite the City of Surrey’s refusal to be at the table. Last month, the Province and Canada agreed in principle that this transition plan would not require federal legislative amendments and would ensure the RCMP can support the SPS as Police of Jurisdiction.
He also said that the transition will continue and look forward to announcing the target date of a change of command shortly. “We are confident that the Province will be successful in the upcoming litigation.”
Surrey Mayor Locke, however, refuted Minister Farnworth’s claim and explained why the city had rejected the Province’s $250 million offer. She said despite being more than five years into the transition, the Province refuses to agree to a number of reasonable commitments that are clearly their responsibility to ensure a safe, efficient and economical policing transition. “As is customary in litigation, the parties engaged in Without Prejudice discussions. The City respects the confidentiality of that process. It does not agree with the representations in the Minister’s statement. It is the City’s position that the Province provided no firm financial commitment that would provide redress to Surrey taxpayers for the full cost of transitioning to a police force they did not vote for.”
Giving examples she said, the Province has failed to develop a plan or model for the new police force, a transition plan, or a completion date for the transition.
Although Minister Farnworth mentioned that the Province offered to “seek cabinet approval to reinstate the Surrey Police Board by June 1, 2024.”
The mayor also claimed that the Provincial Government’s refusal to commit to a completion date for the transition, ending Surrey taxpayers’ burden of paying for two separate police departments.
“Meanwhile, the mayor continues to put up hurdles, all of them designed to bog down and derail the move to the Surrey Police Service,” explained Annis. “Mayor Locke has demonstrated over and over that she is only interested in obstructing the transition, which now includes rejecting millions in funding from the provincial government, and an ongoing court case.”
Mayor also said that the province’s refusal to commit to sufficiently funding the Justice Institute of B.C., to ensure there are enough police officers to staff a new police force was another example of province not making clear commitment for the transition.
Mayor Locke said, “Due to the Province’s failure to address these crucial commitments, accepting the offer would be to the detriment of our residents and overall public safety in Surrey. As I’ve said all along, I will stand up for the best interests of our taxpayers. It’s important that the public have all the details, and hear the truth, and I’m glad all will be revealed as court proceedings begin on April 29.”