SURREY mayoral candidate Doug McCallum said this week that the RCMP’s upcoming move to the old Surrey City Hall will severely compromise community policing in the city at a time when additional interaction has been promised and is desperately needed.
“Over the past two decades, the City of Surrey has emphasized better collaboration with the community, and this move to the old City Hall is completely against that philosophy,” said McCallum. “The approval of this plan by the police committee is not in the best interests of the city, and is in complete contradiction to this Council’s own Crime Reduction Strategy.”
He said: “If there is anywhere expansion should happen, it should be with the presence of more RCMP officers in our communities and on our streets. Expansion and centralization are two opposing forces that do not meet the detachment’s own mandate to better integrate into our neighbourhoods.”
He noted: “The new City Hall glamour project is poised to cost up to $150 million between capital costs and interest payments. Early reports demonstrate how the quality of service for a number of different functions at City Hall have decreased, while inaccessibility due to aspects like paid parking has increased.”
He added: “The impending RCMP move maintains the current trend of losing touch with residents and neighbourhoods.
“This is yet another poorly thought out strategy that extends alienation within the City of Surrey. A solution that would have brought in money to decrease the unnecessary costs of the new City Hall, while enhancing our community policing presence, would have been a far better plan for the well being of residents.
“The distance between the current administration and the needs of residents and neighbourhoods continues to widen.”
McCallum said: “One of the pillars of the City of Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy is to “boost integration between all stakeholders involved in crime reduction.” As well, the Surrey RCMP website states that the community policing model is “rooted in the belief that crime and public safety issues are a shared responsibility between police and the community.” It also identifies how residents, businesses and community organizations “should be engaged as active partners in the delivery of police programs and services operating within the traditional policing model structure.”
“The centralization plan not only negates this strategy with regards to lessening focus on the five district community policing centres, but also provides significantly less revenue that could have been achieved if the space had been leased to a third party.
“The City of Surrey covers 90 per cent of the costs for the RCMP, making the new leasing relationship a net loss for taxpayers.”
HOWEVER, Surrey RCMP pointed out that on July 14 the police committee endorsed the force’s use of the south tower of the former City Hall building at 14245 56th Avenue to accommodate their growing detachment.
The RCMP will continue to occupy its main detachment at 14355 57th Avenue and five district offices while this additional space will provide for the continuing expansion of the force.
The RCMP said that the utilization of the former City Hall building will allow them to meet current and future space requirements, and will provide economies of scale given its close proximity to the main detachment. In addition, co-location with the Crown Counsel offices, Community Corrections, courthouse, and Pre-Trial will provide for a “Justice Precinct” service centre model and an enhanced relationship among Surrey’s justice partners.
“I am very pleased that we have been able to secure this space from the city which will provide us with the additional space we need to accommodate our operations, support services and training,” said Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy, Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP. “Community policing is a cornerstone of our service delivery model and this is certainly not a move away from that model as our five district offices will continue to be a central part of our policing strategy. We are fully committed to having a continued, robust presence in each Surrey community as I believe that is the most effective and efficient way to respond to the needs of this large and growing city.”
(Photos: Doug McCallum / Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy)