Province offers financial assistance to protect Surrey taxpayers during transition
THE Province on Friday announced that it is “strongly” recommending the City of Surrey continue its transition to the Surrey Police Service, because it ensures public safety for people in Surrey and throughout British Columbia, while offering financial assistance to protect Surrey taxpayers.
The recommendation comes after a systematic report by the director of police services concerning plans put forward by the City of Surrey, RCMP and the Surrey Police Service (SPS). Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has agreed that the best way to achieve public safety in B.C., especially given the ongoing RCMP vacancy challenges, while putting this difficult time behind Surrey, is with a municipal police force.
Currently, there are approximately 1,500 RCMP vacancies throughout the province. The report states that Surrey reverting back to the RCMP would exacerbate the challenges faced by municipalities and Indigenous communities by increasing demand for officers and aggravate public-safety concerns. Filling RCMP vacancies is the responsibility of the federal government.
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their community and all British Columbians deserve secure, stable policing they can count on,” said Farnworth. “The people of Surrey are very frustrated by years of uncertainty over this debate, but we must move forward without reducing police presence when we need it the most. Now is not the time to put public safety at risk in Surrey or in any community in the province.”
Answering questions from reporters, Farnworth emphasized that the Province was “strongly” recommending the transition to SPS.
He also made it clear that the Province would not give the City of Surrey any financial help if it wants to revert to the RCMP, which would cost the City of Surrey approximately $72 million.
The report (see link below) by the director of police services details how the transition to SPS can be safely undertaken. The report also details concerns about the RCMP’s current retention and recruitment challenges and outlines potential implications on the RCMP police presence in other regions of the province if the transition is reversed.
The Province has offered financial support to the City of Surrey in the transition to a municipal police force to ensure no additional costs to Surrey residents.
“This path forward will ensure safer policing for all regions of the province, including the people of Surrey, and provincial support will help keep them from paying significant property tax increases,” Farnworth said.
* Under B.C.’s Police Act, a municipality with a population of more than 5,000 has the authority to provide its policing and law enforcement by means of establishing its own municipal police department.
* In 2018, City of Surrey council decided to move away from Surrey’s RCMP police model and opt for its own municipal police department, the SPS.
* The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General approved the transition plan in February 2020 and the City of Surrey has been implementing the transition since that time.
* In November 2022, the City of Surrey’s newly elected mayor and council decided to maintain the RCMP as its police model and reverse the transition.
* The transition to the SPS is well advanced, with approximately 400 officers and support staff hired.
* The ministry commissioned an independent financial analysis of the submissions that concludes the SPS plan to staff 734 officers will cost approximately $30 million more per year than the RCMP.
* Additionally, the analysis confirmed the costs of severance from disbanding the SPS and reverting to the RCMP would cost the City of Surrey approximately $72 million.
To read the director of police services’ report, see: