Blue Line

Surrey, B.C., to stay with RCMP over independent force, costing the city millions

June 16, 2023  By The Canadian Press

June 16, 2023, Surrey, B.C. – The RCMP is on its way back as the police force in Metro Vancouver’s largest city after Surrey council voted to dump its municipal force, rejecting a provincial government recommendation that came with a $150-million transition offer, the mayor said Friday.

Brenda Locke, acknowledging the decision will cost the city “millions,” said she has spoken to Premier David Eby and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about the council’s answer.

“I spoke with both the premier and the solicitor general and I am satisfied that they are prepared to work in the spirit of co-operation with the city,” Locke said at a news conference on Friday. “Surrey council and I want to stress the importance of working with the provincial government. It helps our city and it helps our province.”

The government recommended in April that the city continue with its transition to the independent Surrey Police Service, offering $150 million over five years to help cover costs.

It also said it would not pay the estimated $72 million in severance for officers if the council decided to go back to the RCMP.

“Surrey needs a final answer on policing and the Surrey council has decided, with a vote held yesterday, to retain the RCMP as the police force of our jurisdiction,” Locke said. “There is no question the decision on policing in Surrey rests with Surrey council, the premier and solicitor general have confirmed that fact.”

Farnworth is expected to address the Surrey policing issue at a news conference later today.

Locke said she couldn’t estimate the cost of the move back to the Mounties.

“It will obviously be millions, but we don’t know what those millions will look like,” she said.

The mayor said the option to stay with the RCMP was “far, far less costly” than moving forward with the Surrey Police Service.

She declined to disclose how the councillors voted, who voted or any other details regarding the vote, saying officials signed non-disclosure agreements and their meeting was “behind closed doors.”

“Now that the political delays are over, we can all work together to what brought us here in the first place,” Locke said, adding the major issue is public safety for Surrey.

The city’s transition to the independent police force was well underway when Locke was elected as Surrey’s mayor last October on the promise to return policing to the Mounties.

Farnworth said earlier the government’s decision to recommend staying with the independent force was a safety issue based largely on deployment throughout the Lower Mainland due to 1,500 RCMP vacancies across B.C.

Locke said she has informed the Surrey Police Service and the RCMP of the council’s decision.

“I spoke at length with the RCMP commanding officer for British Columbia and the officer in charge of Surrey detachment and people have assured me that they can, they will and are already in the process of meeting the obligations that the dissolution of the Surrey Police Services places upon them.”

Locke said the city is currently looking at the timeline of when the RCMP will be returned to full strength, but in the meantime it is expected that Surrey police and the RCMP detachment will work together with “professionalism” ensuring the service level remains high.

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