SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Surrey city council has passed a divisive budget that places a freeze on the hiring of new RCMP officers and firefighters to help pay for a transition to a new municipal police force.
It’s a move that has not gone over well with some on council or many online commenters.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the hiring freeze was given the okay by the police chief and fire chief.
“Both of them assured me we could get by this year and continue to make our city safe by the same number of officers we have now,” the mayor said on Monday.
But many responding on Twitter are accusing McCallum of embellishing that support.
“Can get by??? Didn’t he campaign on delivering a safer Surrey?? Isn’t he issuing statements every other week about the danger we’re all in?” posts one person, responding to NEWS 1130’s story.
“can get by”??? Didn’t he campaign on delivering a safer Surrey?? Isn’t he issuing statements every other week about the danger we’re all in?
— jodimurphy604 (@jodirmurphy) December 3, 2019
“Who in their right mind would say they are good for manpower especially after police having been repeatedly asking for more. So many lies,” writes another.
“This is also the same guy who said they can get SkyTrain to Langley. He said your taxes will only go up by 10%, failed to mention that all services will be cut. All that’s going to happen is services will be cut and force the next council to increase tax to make up for shortfall,” reads another response.
This is also the same guy who said they can get skytrain to langley. He said your taxes will only go up by 10%, failed to mention that all srvcs will be cut. All that's going to happen is srvcs will be cut and force the next council to increase tax to makeup for shortfall
— Darren (@dazcolumbo) December 3, 2019
The cuts in funding were made to pay for the city’s new police force, with $129-million allocated to the transition over the next four years.
This is the second year in a row that Surrey will not hire a single new police officer.
Some councillors expressed their discontent with the budget after Monday night’s vote.
Councillor Steven Pettigrew apologized to the residents of Surrey, saying he had done all he could to prevent it.
“In 28 minutes we have destroyed so many lives,” he said. “I’m embarrassed by this budget and I want nothing to do with it.”
“I’m ashamed of this, it doesn’t serve our city well. It will hurt my family and yours,” Pettigrew argued, adding the city is being bled dry by the budget and new police force.
Similarly, councillor Linda Annis said Surrey needs more police officers and the money should be going to the existing RCMP force, instead of funding a new one.
Mayor Doug McCallum claimed councillors who opposed the budget are also the ones who will say anything to get elected.
“Some of the comments you heard out there are reflective of how some councillors look at elections and to say certain things in elections to get elected and then to change their mind after they get elected,” he said.
McCallum defended the budget following the vote, arguing that it is fiscally responsible.
“I can honestly say this is one of the best this year that we’ve gone through,” he said.
Councillor Brenda Locke put forward a motion to stop all work on going forward with a new police force and get a third party to review the process. She argued consultation wasn’t done in good faith.
“This whole transition process for us has been devastating quite honestly,” she said. “We have been disrespected, shut out of the process and what’s worse is the public has been ignored. This is all about the mayor’s project. He wants it and he wants nobody to have say so in it.”
The only public consultation on the budget was held earlier in the day, however, the city argued the public had two weeks to comment online.