SURREY Doug McCallum on Tuesday introduced a Surrey Police cruiser to the public and media at the Civic Plaza to demonstrate his determination to establish a municipal police force as he had promised to do if elected.
In his 2019 State of the City Address, McCallum said that police transition requires political courage, adding, “There is no question that the policing transition is a political minefield. I would argue that is the main reason that previous Councils have not attempted it before. No politician wants to be on the hook for the initial costs or draw the attention of critics.”
McCallum said: “I have been described as someone who likes to shake things up. There is no disputing, there have been changes and there will be more to come, but I want to be clear, the changes that are happening are not being done for the sake of change, they are being done in the best interest of Surrey and its people.
“The transition to a Surrey Police Department is a prime example. As Surrey has changed over the years, the time has come to change how our city is policed. The change I am talking about is accountability.”
The mayor emphasized that he has no quarrel with the men and women of the Surrey RCMP, noting, “They have done a good job for us.”
However, he pointed out: “The fact remains that Surrey is the largest city in the country that does not have its own local police department. And that ladies and gentlemen is the root of the problem. Without our own city police department, without our own local police board, accountability ultimately lies in Ottawa. By establishing Surrey Police, the accountability will stay in our city, with Surrey’s residents and business owners where it belongs.”
The mayor went on to mock his critics who had all kinds of opinions about costs. He said: “The critics bring up the salary savings we currently have with the RCMP versus a unionized city police force. Fact is, those salary savings would be canceled out in a couple years because the RCMP are moving to a pay scale that will put them on par with unionized city police. When that happens, those salary increases would be passed down to us, change or not.”
He added: “I have always said there will be a cost attached and nothing has changed on that front. My view is that it will be around the 10% range, and I stand by that. “
McCallum said: “Forming our own city police is the right move for Surrey. When Council unanimously voted to cancel the RCMP contract and transition to Surrey Police, we did this not out of self-interest but rather out of the best interest of this city and its people.”
McCallum introduced a website – surreypolice.ca – through which residents can provide their suggestions.
McCallum said: “The plan will soon be in the hands of the Province and we will be out soon to share our vision with the people of Surrey. In the coming weeks we will be asking our residents to tell us which priorities they want to see for their new city police and help guide it into the future.”
McCallum told the audience: “I want to take you back to the night we were sworn in as the new City Council. The first meeting is usually a ceremonial affair, but not this time round. In a break from tradition, we actually got some work done by moving ahead with SkyTrain and Surrey Police. There was no waiting around for the next Council meeting.
“I believe in constantly looking ahead and moving forward. In other words, I am interested in getting things done.”
McCallum later noted: “I can tell you that the plan we have put together is sound. We have had one of the finest city police forces in the country, if not the continent, helping us with the transition document. I want to take a moment to thank Vancouver Police Board Chair, Mayor Kennedy Stewart, and Vancouver Police Chief, Adam Palmer, for all their help. I am very confident that the province will like what it sees and that we will have our Surrey Police officers patrolling our streets by July 2020.”
TALKING about rapid transition, McCallum told the audience: “We just received a new addition to Surrey Central station, my thanks to TransLink for that. Prior to this, do you know the last time any new rapid transit expansion happened in our city? Let me give you a hint. Mike Harcourt was Premier. The year was 1994. That was when Phase 3 of the Expo Line extended from Scott Road to City Centre. Three stations were opened at Gateway, Surrey Central and King George.
“Well ladies and gentlemen, it is now a quarter of a century later and there has not been a single kilometer of new track built in Surrey. In the meantime, a whole generation has passed, and Surrey has gone from being a suburb to BC’s second largest city and soon to be the largest within the next two decades.
“In the last 12 years alone, Surrey’s population has increased by more than 100,000 people. So, yes, we absolutely need to get moving fast.”
McCallum noted that what his slate campaigned on clearly resonated with Surrey voters.
He pointed out: “Our plan to cancel Light Rail and replace it with SkyTrain was the issue that sparked debate during the campaign. What I heard at the doorsteps and in the meeting halls were a loud call for SkyTrain for Surrey. To some of you, the switch to SkyTrain may appear to benefit only a portion of the city, but SkyTrain is good for all of Surrey and the entire region.
“When I was Chair of TransLink, I believed that rapid transit should never be about serving a single city. It should be about serving the greater whole. Case in point, the deal to build the Canada Line was done while I was TransLink Chair. I understood how important it was to have the Canada Line link the airport to Downtown Vancouver and beyond. No one would argue now that the Canada Line has proved its worth for all who live in the region. No doubt it was the right project for that time.
“Fast forward to 2019, the right project for the region is SkyTrain for Surrey. It is Surrey’s turn for rapid transit expansion, and while it has taken us decades to get to this point, SkyTrain is now truly a regional mover of people as we extend new service east through Fleetwood, Clayton and to Langley. I should add that Surrey’s new line along Fraser Highway is only the first phase as future plans have SkyTrain expanding into Newton and ultimately into South Surrey.”
McCallum added: “TransLink is hard at work on a business plan for the Surrey SkyTrain expansion and that report is expected to be tabled at the Mayors’ Council in July. I am very optimistic that we will be ready to go to tender next year, with construction beginning in early 2021.”
MCCALLUM also highlighted the following items that were part of his “to do list” that have been acted upon since taking office:
– Implement Smart Development to ensure essential services and infrastructure are part of the planning of new communities.
– No development in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
– Eliminate backlog in building permits.
– Hold property tax increase to the Consumer Price Index (Oct. 2018) of 2.9%.
– Bring the City of Surrey’s debt load under control by taking a pay as you go approach.
– Eliminate pay parking around Surrey Memorial Hospital and at City Hall.
– Institute Inadmissible Patrons Program and Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment Program.
– Bring transparency, accountability and fairness with the establishment of an Independent Ethics Commissioner at City Hall.
– Create Truck Parking and Community Engagement Task Forces.
– Purchase and protect park land in Campbell Heights.
– Begin planning of a new Track and Field facility at Bear Creek Park and a Kabaddi facility.
– Increase discount for seniors 70 years and older from 25% to 75% on recreation passes and drop-in admissions.
The full speech by McCallum can be viewed here.