Surrey City Council report on Policing transition contradicts Mayor Locke’s election claim of saving more than $500 million


Devising debate over Policing transition in Surrey continues as Surrey Council approves plan to retain RCMP as Police of Jurisdiction. The Surrey Police Service has pointed out serious concerns related to the plan “stemming from the plan’s over-reliance on financial and human resource assumptions” and noting that SPS was not consulted on the City’s report. SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski called it an unprecedented situation where a police agency was approved and stood up over two years ago, and now a new Council is seeking to potentially reverse course and shut down a police agency with 375 employees who joined SPS in good faith.

By Link News Network

The Surrey Council approved a plan to retain Surrey RCMP as Police of Jurisdiction during its Regular Council Meeting. The final report was prepared to be sent to the Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety by Dec. 15 for his review.

Although the report has been challenged by Surrey Police Service and Councillor Linda Annis for various reasons, the biggest challenge to Mayor Locke’s claims came from within the report. Mayor Brenda Locke had given a rough estimation of saving more than $500 million dollars of taxpayers’ money if Surrey sticks to RCMP, in the next 5 years. The report however, clearly mentions that by keeping the RCMP, a total cost savings of $235.4M would be realized over the next five years.

“We believe that the many assumptions made in this report have contributed to the City providing an inflated cost to taxpayers to continue with the transition to SPS, which they have stated is $235.4M over five years,” said SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. “It should be further noted that this amount was previously purported to be $520M over four years by Surrey Connect during the recent municipal election.” 

Safe Surrey Coalition led by previous mayor Doug McCallum in a statement, said, “The findings of City of Surrey staff that remaining with the RCMP will save $235.4 million is a huge discrepancy from what Mayor Brenda Locke and her party claimed during the election campaign. The estimates that were apparently confirmed by now-elected Councillor Pardeep Kooner, who is a CPA, declared that savings would be $520 million, representing a $285 million shortfall. In addition, these projections from the city do not factor in the range of costs associated with deconstructing the three unions that are currently constituted within the framework of the Surrey Police Service. Early estimates speculate that the supposed savings may drop to $150 million.”

The Safe Surrey Coalition called on Mayor Locke to provide a fulsome explanation of how she came to the grossly inaccurate figures that are responsible for victory. “Further, we are hoping to see an apology from the Mayor’s entire caucus, who are now known to have been elected on the false information they provided to the electorate,” the statement read.

Responding to the cost of saving taxpayers’ money Mayor Locke said, “Even accounting for the funds that have already been spent, retaining the Surrey RCMP will still save Surrey taxpayers more than $235 million over the next five years, and this figure does not include capital expenditures. Council has now received the long overdue financial analysis that I have called for since the beginning.”

According to Mayor Locke, the Council approved the plan after reviewing a five-year financial analysis of the transition to the Surrey Police Service (SPS) versus retaining the Surrey RCMP.

The report points that the full transition to SPS would cost $1,160.2M while retaining the Surrey RCMP would cost $924.8M over five years.

The Surrey Police Service said key assumptions in the City of Surrey’s report does not provide an accurate picture to the city’s residents. One of the major concerns was that SPS was not consulted on the City’s report.

According to SPS there is over-estimation (27-50%) of the number of SPS officers who would transfer to the Surrey RCMP. “It is not supported by the Surrey Police Union’s survey of its membership (94% stating they are not interested in joining the RCMP). 

“Assumption that SPS will have difficulty recruiting the remaining 419 officers, when SPS has a proven ability to hire new and experienced officers with over 2,500+ applications received in under two years. This is unprecedented interest for any Canadian police agency. Conversely, the report does not mention the RCMP’s documented recruiting challenges and labour shortages,” said Lipinski.

SPS also contradicted the operating cost. “An estimation that SPS would cost $31.9M more per year than the RCMP, while SPS calculations estimate the cost difference would be $18.3M,” Lipinski said.

He called it an unprecedented situation where a police agency was approved and stood up over two years ago, and now a new Council is seeking to potentially reverse course and shut down a police agency with 375 employees who joined SPS in good faith. “This is a difficult situation for the employees of both SPS and the Surrey RCMP. I think it is safe to say that we are all hopeful for a prompt, but carefully considered decision by the Minister early in the new year.” 

Surrey Police Service is also preparing a report for the Province of BC that will detail SPS’s ability to police Surrey safely and effectively, and to achieve all of the requirements to become the police of jurisdiction in a timely manner. The report will be delivered to the Province by December 22, 2022.