SURREY, B.C. — The chief of the municipal police service in Surrey, B.C., is calling for an independent audit of the city’s costings for its policing transition, saying he’s concerned they’ve been “inflated and mischaracterized” to target the fledgling force.
The city’s draft five-year budget, released Saturday, says more than half of a proposed 9.5 per cent property tax increase for 2023 will go toward costs associated with the transition, which involves a reversal of plans by the former mayor and council to replace the RCMP with the Surrey Police Service.
The budget relies on a presumption that the city will retain the RCMP as the police force of jurisdiction, and says a shortfall of $116.6 million is the result of what Mayor Brenda Locke calls a “misguided experiment” to change policing in Surrey.
Surrey Police Chief Constable Norm Lipinski says he’s worried the city is depicting its numbers in a way that calls into question the viability of the municipal force.
He says Surrey residents “don’t know who to believe” and he doesn’t blame them.
Lipinski says in a statement the Surrey Police Service would support an independent audit involving the municipal force, the city, and the RCMP, to ensure taxpayers “get the clarity they deserve on the policing transition.”
The B.C. government hasn’t made a decision yet on the city’s request to retain the RCMP, with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth saying last month that the director of police services wanted more information.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2023.