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RCMP hiring freeze, Cloverdale arena delay: Surrey council approves controversial budget

Last Updated Dec 19, 2018 at 7:37 pm PST

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is seen here on Nov. 19, 2018. (Source: Tarnjit Parmar/NEWS 1130)

The controversial budget will see some popular projects put on hold

Councillors held a special meeting at city hall a short time ago and the budget passed with a vote of 5-4

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – It’s a move many people living in Surrey don’t want to hear, but city council has just formally approved its controversial operating budget which means several big initiatives are either being slashed or delayed.

Some major items on the budget included the police budget and the the Cloverdale ice rink. Surrey won’t be hiring any new police officers, and the long-awaited rink in Cloverdale won’t be built. Councillors held a special meeting at city hall a short time ago and the budget passed with a vote of 5-4.

RELATED: Surrey city council to vote on controversial budget

The budget follows Mayor Doug McCallum’s claims the city is drowning in debt and they need to manage the books a little better.

Parents and young hockey players have protested delaying the arena, sending more than 300 letters to budget councillors.

Municipal police force could be running within 2 years: McCallum

McCallum says public safety won’t be at risk as he puts a freeze on hiring any new RCMP officers. He says the extra officers aren’t needed as the city works to create a municipal police force, adding that it may be created earlier than the two year timeline thanks to support from the province.

“We’re getting a lot warmer reception and are working well together, so I think the process actually is going to be speeded up,” he says.

He says it would take time to bring on new RCMP officers, and there isn’t a point in doing so as the transition to a municipal force continues.

“In past experience, it has taken then up to a year anyway to bring in new officers, and by that time — which is a year from now — we’ll be well into our transition.”

McCallum also suggests the force can be up and running before his previous timeline of two years, saying support seems to be growing from the provincial government.

Long-awaited Cloverdale rink delayed

To keep the city’s debt under control, Council also approved their capital budget, which delays multiple projects.

Hockey parents and young players immediately protested the delay to a long awaited ice rink in Cloverdale.

Mayor Doug McCallum says for now, there are other projects that are the priority.

“Look at our city centre here,” he says. “We’re going ahead with a very major community centre with the YMCA right here.”