SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Following Surrey’s explosive council meeting Monday night one city councillor is asking the province to step in and review Mayor Doug McCallum’s conduct.
Councillor Jack Hundial’s complaint comes after the mayor prevented anyone from debating the budget, due to safety concerns.
Hundial says he was shocked and angry to not be able to air his grievances with the budget one last time before it was officially approved.
Mayor Doug McCallum did not allow councillors to speak on the budget, citing safety concerns caused by the vocal crowd, a move Hundial says hurts democracy.
“It certainly does warrant additional review on the conduct of it, and certainly the mayor’s conduct,” he says. “That was completely against our procedure of by-laws. That was completely against anything democratic.”
The five-year budget passed with a five to four vote largely centered on the city’s transition to a municipal police force.
The budget puts a hiring freeze on Mounties and firefighters and earmarks $129 million for a new force, which will replace the RCMP.
Hundial says when it comes to the budget that freezes the hiring of new police officers and firefighters, not allowing discussion hurts democracy. He says that is what prompted him to ask the province to step in.
“In a city such as this, you have such a divisive issue, you need to have every side.”
As for the province, they’re not stepping in anytime soon.
According to an email from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the council has its own rules surrounding debates and any potential violations have to be taken up by city staff.
“The Community Charter gives local governments the authority to establish processes and procedures for their meetings through procedure bylaws, which vary from community to community,” the statement reads.
The Ministry tells NEWS 1130 in the case bylaws are not followed court action can be taken.
“In the case of Surrey, the City’s procedure bylaw provides rules for debate around bylaws such as the budget,” they say.
“As the provincial legislative framework for local governments provides municipalities with a high degree of independence and autonomy within their jurisdiction, specific questions about Surrey’s council meeting procedures and any potential violations of them should be directed to the City of Surrey.”