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Surrey Board of Trade pens letter to Farnworth to discuss police force concerns

Last Updated Mar 5, 2019 at 1:20 pm PDT

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police "E" Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. A former RCMP officer and group spokesman for many Mounties says a former member who reportedly took her life won't be the last if changes aren't made soon. Rob Creasser, of the Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada, says the RCMP has had dozens of opportunities to change its "toxic" culture -- but he places a lot of blame on the federal government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Summary

Surrey Board of Trade's CEO says uncertainty about costs of transition are concerning

Anita Huberman says business leaders have yet to hear a plan and says more public consultations are needed

The board has written a letter to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to discuss their concerns with the transition

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The Surrey Board of Trade is hoping B.C.’s public safety minister will accept its invitation to meet and discuss the city’s plan to transition to a municipal force and away from the RCMP.

CEO Anita Huberman says the board wrote to Minister Mike Farnworth asking for the meeting to discuss the city’s plans.

“Our position with the minister will be to not accept the transition plan in light of no public engagement, no public consultation on this very important topic, as well as increasing costs, to not only residential taxpayers but business taxpayers,” Huberman adds. “The uncertainty about costs and the lack of public engagement is very concerning, which is why we have written this letter and have asked for a meeting with the minister.”

RELATED: Surrey city councillor calls for public consultation on police force transition

She says it’s fair to have a dialogue about such an important issue to Surrey.

Huberman says public engagement is the “democratic” way to approach the issue, noting business leaders haven’t heard a plan related to the transition or future public engagement.

“I believe the mayor is accountable to not only the residents but the business community,” she adds. “We’re here as a business community wondering what our impacts would be and making such a significant decision without knowing any of these costs or engaging with the public as a whole, not only those that voted for them.”

The city is sending its Police Transition Report to the province in four to six weeks.

Surrey’s mayor not backing down on move towards police force

Meanwhile, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has issued a statement in response to some pushback from city councillors on the transition from the RCMP to a police force.

“Our platform was abundantly clear, and the public was overwhelmingly in support of what we said we would do on its behalf, if elected,” McCallum said in his statement.

“On the night this new Council was sworn in, Council voted unanimously in favour of cancelling the contract with the RCMP and moving ahead with a municipal police department. For critics to now say that there is a lack of a mandate or public consultation for Surrey to have its own municipal police department shows little to no regard for our most basic democratic principle of respecting the will of the people.”

Safe Surrey councillor Jack Hundial believes there needs to be more opportunities for public consultation on the matter, arguing people need to know what the move will cost and what kind of results they should expect.

McCallum has called out Hundial in Tuesday’s statement:

“Councillor Hundial, a retired 25-year RCMP officer, ran on that commitment and pledge to carry it out if elected. The voters entrusted us to deliver on our promises and that is a trust that Councillor Hundial is now breaking. I have no intention of breaking my campaign promises or the public’s trust.”

Surrey First councillor Linda Annis says she’s changed her mind since voting in favour of the change in October.

“The mayor had assured me that the cost would be no more than ten per cent of what we’re currently paying for our policing, and I now believe that that’s not possible,” she said. “I supported it in the beginning but now my view is changing.”

 – With files from Jonathan Szekeres