Surrey, B.C., wants to stay with RCMP while province issues deadline

Surrey, B.C., wants to stay with RCMP while province issues deadline
Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke speaks during a news conference about the city's municipal police force transition, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday, April 28, 2023.

Surrey city council has released its budget saying if it’s forced to transition away from the RCMP to a local force it will cost half a billion dollars more over the next decade.

It comes on the same day Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says the city has until 4 p.m. to take an offer of $250 million from the government to help it shift to the independent force.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says in a statement that the budget is based on the city staying with the RCMP and if it is forced to transition to the independent service, the costs would be much higher.

She says under the terms of the Surrey Police Service, having two officers in each vehicle is mandated and that would mean the city would have to hire at least 200 more officers.

Farnworth told reporters at the legislature that government and city officials have been negotiating an agreement and an offer is on the table for the city.

Locke was elected on the promise to reverse the transition to the independent police force and switch back to the RCMP and has rejected the provincial government’s directive that it continue with the transition, which was already well underway when the mayor was elected.

The city budget proposes a property tax increase of seven per cent, which would include the additional hiring of 26 police officers.

The city is challenging the provincial order in B.C. Supreme Court, saying in a petition that the change in the Police Act by the government is unconstitutional because it places limits on voters’ freedom of expression.

READ PREVIOUS: Mayor of Surrey, B.C., announces constitutional challenge over policing

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2024.

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