A third city councillor in Surrey, B.C., has quit the mayor's coalition, saying Doug McCallum shrugged off his extensive expertise in public safety when it came to conversations around building an independent police force.
Coun. Jack Hundial worked as an RCMP officer for 25 years before he was elected as part of McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition last fall.
Hundial announced he was leaving the alliance in a statement Thursday morning.
He said he has spent less than an hour talking policing one-on-one with the mayor in the nine months since election night.
"Since the time I was elected, I've only had one 30-minute meeting with the mayor on public safety, which was him telling me not to be involved in public safety anymore, when, realistically, the people that voted for me and expected ... to have my 25 years as a police officer, my experience, making some of these key decisions for the City of Surrey," Hundial said in a phone interview Thursday.
"I've offered to help and assist in many ways as possible but the mayor is not being receptive to that."
The City of Surrey is working to establish a municipal police force to replace the RCMP by April 1, 2021. The city released its long-anticipated transition plan on June 3, detailing what the new policing model for the municipality would look like.
Hundial said the public consultation aspect of the planning process was flawed.
"There's a lot of pieces that are missing here. This is almost a once-in-a-generation transition for the residents of Surrey and they need to have a voice in it ... and that consultation piece stops after election. It's not right," he said.
3 councillors gone in 3 months
Hundial is the third councillor to abandon Safe Surrey in the past three months.
Coun. Brenda Locke announced she was quitting McCallum's coalition on June 27. She said the alliance had fallen into dysfunction under McCallum's leadership, and also mentioned problems with the city's transition toward a municipal police force.
"[McCallum] hasn't been transparent and he hasn't been inclusive," Locke said shortly after announcing her decision last month.
Coun. Steven Pettigrew quit the mayor's team four days before the policing transition plan was announced. He had also been outspoken over what he described as a marred process and lack of transparency, though a statement said the final straw was the coalition's stance on protecting the city's tree canopy.
'I'm always willing to listen': Mayor
After Locke's announcement, McCallum released a statement insisting the majority of council agrees with his approach to fulfilling campaign promises.
"I think I can say that I'm always willing to listen, and if they feel it's too hard, sure, I'd be happy to change it," the mayor said.
Creating an independent police force and terminating the policing contract with the RCMP was one of McCallum's main campaign promises in last October's election.
Hundial, Locke and Pettigrew will all continue to sit as independent councillors. Surrey's council will now have three independents, a Surrey First councillor, and four remaining Safe Surrey councillors alongside McCallum.