The fate of policing in a community nearly 80 kilometres away has the District of Kent worried its budget could be impacted.
“I am concerned that this whole new model for Surrey will affect all of our municipal budgets,” Mayor Sylvia Pranger said during Monday night’s council meeting.
The state of policing in Surrey has been up in the air since the 2018 municipal election, when now-mayor Doug McCallum campaigned on getting rid of the RCMP and instituting its own municipal police force.
McCallum was elected, but the city remained divided on removing the RCMP. McCallum was criticized by members of council for how he moved forward with establishing the Surrey Police, which has now established a police board and hired its top cop. It’s not clear exactly when the new force will take over policing from the RCMP.
Kent council received a letter from Surrey councillors Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial, who have been at loggerheads with McCallum over the police transition.
This letter shared the results of a Freedom of Information request filed by Locke and Hundial, which said a business analyis of the impact a new force would have on policing in the Lower Mainland and across B.C. was required before the force could be established. The councillors said that, to their knowledge, that business analysis has not happened.
“We believe the process has been rushed and has not taken the many variables that rightfully the Director (of Police Services Brenda Butterworth-Carr) acknowledges,” the letter reads.
Kent council shared their concerns during the Monday night meeting, as the loss of the Surrey RCMP could potentially increase costs for services provided to all RCMP departments.
“Many municipalities are expressing serious concern as to how this could impact them,” Pranger said.
Mayor Pranger also noted that communities who are losing high ranking officers to the new police force are finding it “a big challenge” within their own RCMP departments.
Coun. Stan Watchorn said he wanted to know if there was any way other municipalities could get assurances that they would not be receiving additional costs because of the loss of the Surrey RCMP. He also added that Surrey should be responsible for some payments, as they will still be accessing resources.
“The financial impact is something that is going to hit us all,” Watchorn said .
CAO Wallace Mah noted that the issue will be brought forward at a Lower Mainland-wide meeting on policing in early April, as well as a UBCM committee.