SURREY First councillors Linda Annis and Mike Bose say the draft report to city council aimed at cancelling the Surrey Police Service (SPS) and retaining the RCMP is incomplete, with some important numbers that don’t add up.
As a result, they will not support the draft report intended to go to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
“We ran on giving Surrey residents their say in a policing referendum,” said Annis on Monday. “If we’re not going to have a referendum, the very least we can do is give our residents the whole story that gets all of the facts and numbers on the table. For instance, we want to see the SPS response to the report and whether they challenge any of the assumptions and numbers. It’s one thing to have your own opinion, but you cannot have your own facts, so I want to make sure that whatever is sent to the minister can stand up to scrutiny.”
Annis said she also wants to know what input the SPS had into the report and says there are examples in the draft document before council where certain numbers don’t match what is already public.
For example, Annis notes Brenda Locke and Surrey Connect said during the election campaign it would cost $521 million to switch to the SPS. However, the report being considered at tonight’s council meeting puts that cost at $235.4 million over five years, 21 percent more than the cost of staying with the RCMP.
Meanwhile, the Surrey Police Service indicates the cost to switch would be $110.1 million over five years, or 11 per cent more expensive than keeping the RCMP.
Bose said the rush to get a report into the province should not come at the expense of getting the numbers and facts right.
“We’ve spent four years dealing with this issue, so taking a few more weeks to get the facts straight so taxpayers know we’ve taken the whole thing seriously is worth the extra time,” explained Bose. “At the end of the day every number and every assumption need to be correct, if not we will end up making a costly process even more expensive. [Former Surrey mayor] Doug McCallum’s approach to this issue was wrong and shortsighted right from the start, now we have the chance to do it right, and for us that means giving our citizens confidence that what’s being presented in the report is completely accurate. After four years, Surrey residents want the facts, and they want transparency.”
Annis said it’s important to take egos and politics out of this equation and get to the real numbers and facts supporting the plan to retain the RCMP.
“In a way, we want to put the RCMP, the SPS, the city, and a couple of outside accountants in a room together so they can get on the same page when it comes to the facts and numbers that are such important parts of this plan to stop the transition and keep the RCMP,” noted Annis. “There is just one set of facts, not an RCMP version and not an SPS version. Those are the details we want, and we don’t believe this draft report has done enough to provide the people of Surrey with confidence that the report has it right. Without agreement on the facts and numbers, how can we be confident we’re making the right decisions going forward?”