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Province, Surrey reach deal on policing transition

Province will provide $30 million yearly to assist with transition costs until 2029
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth (seen here in March 2023) has announced an agreement with the City of Surrey on the policing transition.

The Province and the City of Surrey have reached an agreement on the police transition that will complete the transfer from Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service. 

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, announced Wednesday (July 10) in Vancouver that the agreement will provide stability to Surrey residents.  

"To conclude the transition while ensuring the safety of Surrey residents, our agreements include funding of up to $250 million over 10 years," Farnworth said. "This includes the current $150 million commitment and a financial guarantee to pay up to $20 million per year for the difference between the salary costs of the city police service and the costs that would have been paid for RCMP salaries."

"This will help to ensure that increased costs aren't downloaded to the people in Surrey to increase taxes for policing. Together, we are providing certainty on the direction of policing in Surrey, and moving forward with the transition plan," Farnworth added. 

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said in a statement that city council worked hard to ensure that the provincial government “would support the police transition beyond its initial $150-million offer.”

“With the $250 million now offered by the Province, Surrey council has accepted the provincial funding for the police transition,” Locke said. 

‘“The new funds from the Province will help to lessen the financial impact of the transition to Surrey taxpayers. City council fully recognizes the service of the RCMP in Surrey. We express our gratitude for everything Surrey RCMP has done to serve and protect our community for the past 70 years with their exemplary service. Through integrated policing units, such as IHIT, RCMP will continue to support the people of Surrey. As we go through this process, council will be constantly working in the best interests of Surrey taxpayers."

Farnworth said this is the same offer that the Province made in April, which the city rejected. 

"Subsequent to the court case, the city approached us and asked us if we would consider putting the offer on again, and we have done that," Farnworth said. 

Farnworth added that it is important that the city is "at the table," which will help ensure the transition moves smoothly. 

The SPS will become the police of jurisdiction on Nov. 29, 2024, and the transition is aimed to be completed by 2026. The BC RCMP will provide transitional support throughout the transition period. 

The city has appointed Tonia Enger and Clayton Pecknold to represent the city at the joint implementation table, alongside representatives of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Public Safety Canada, the RCMP and the SPS. 

Surrey Police Service is the second largest municipal police department in B.C. after Vancouver, with 431 sworn officers and support staff and plans to hire 526 SPS officers by the end of the year. 

Elenore Sturko, MLA for Surrey South, said today's announcement was unsurprising.

“It is not a surprise that the NDP would come back, particularly considering how close we are to the election to try to mitigate some of the financial implications of the transition,” Sturko said.

She added that there has not been enough information about transition and how it will look. Sturko is also a former RCMP officer and is running with the BC Conservatives in Surrey-Cloverdale this October.

Sturko has no doubt that either the SPS or Surrey RCMP will provide great police service to Surrey residents.

“My concern has been the cost and how is it that the city will be able to manage those costs going forward, because don't forget the goal, at the end of the day, there will come a time when this money from the province doesn't exist anymore,” Sturko said. 

“What can the residents of Surrey expect in terms of public safety and how that will look on November 29, and considering how few months that really is away, you know, we're in summer now seems like a long way away, but really, in the grand scheme of putting together a comprehensive public safety strategy for a city that includes changing police of jurisdiction, to not have the ability to share that with the public at this point is very concerning,” Sturko said.

Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I cover health care, non-profits and social issues-related topics for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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