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Time to bring back Surrey public safety committee, says councillor

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Mar 9, 2020 at 11:27 am PDT

FILE - Surrey City Hall.

Surrey Coun. Linda Annis says the city should bring back the Public Safety Committee

Annis says committee was tabled to focus on municipal police transition, but transition committee never met: Annis

With COVID-19, public safety is utmost concern says councillor

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – A Surrey councillor wants to bring back a public safety committee amid concerns such as COVID-19.

Coun. Linda Annis plans to speak Monday to a motion tabled last week to bring back the committee.

It was dissolved, after 15 years, last summer by Mayor Doug McCallum and replaced with one focused solely on the transition to a municipal police force.

But that committee has never met, Annis said, and involves only the mayor and his affiliated councillors.

“The police transition committee was to meet only about about the police transition piece, and, I might add, they never, ever did meet,” said Annis.

The former committee brought together police, firefighters, emergency services, and health professionals.

Annis argues that, especially with the onset of COVID-19, public safety is of the utmost concern.

She said the Public Safety Committee should include elected officials and other stakeholders, including non-profits that help execute public such initiatives.

The Surrey school district suspended space and facility rentals Monday after learning someone diagnosed with COVID-19 was in a school gym on the weekend.

A person who used the gymnasium at Serpentine Heights Elementary tested positive for the virus, according to spokesperson Ritinder Matthew.

Meanwhile, Surrey’s move away from the RCMP and to a municipal force received the final stamp of approval from the provincial government last week.

McCallum said the hope is to have the new municipal force take over in April 2021 — in just more than a year.

The original Public Safety Committee was dissolved in July and replaced by the Interim Police Transition Advisory Committee, which was tasked specifically with the RCMP transition.

Annis previously pushed for MLAs to support a referendum on whether the city should stay with the RCMP or move to a municipal police force.

Volunteers with a Surrey group petitioning to keep the RCMP delivered 40 boxes containing a signed petition to the Vancouver Cabinet Office on Valentine’s Day.

The group, KEEP the RCMP, aims to collect 50,000 signatures in total.