B.C.'s solicitor general says more info needed before decision can be made on Surrey police
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says more information is needed to decide whether the RCMP or Surrey Police Service (SPS) will provide law enforcement in Surrey.
Surrey's previous council, led by then-Mayor Doug McCallum, voted to ditch Surrey RCMP and transition to the municipal SPS.
But the current council, led by Mayor Brenda Locke, voted to halt the transition and send a plan to the province to keep the Mounties in Surrey.
The final decision lies with Farnworth.
On Thursday, he said ministry staff have completed a "comprehensive review" of submissions from the city, RCMP and SPS about the transition but the director of police services needs more information from the parties.
"The policing transition in Surrey is unprecedented and complex and requires a full and in-depth analysis," Farnworth said. "I am grateful for the work all parties have undertaken to date. We will await their timely responses and look forward to continued collaboration."
More information needed
Specifically, Farnworth said he needs more information from the city "on details regarding SPS demobilization and the number of RCMP members required to restaff."
He said they're seeking information from the RCMP on areas such as the number of officers needed to restaff "and the anticipated growth within the RCMP."
He also said he needed more information from the SPS "on strategies for the remaining areas of work towards becoming the police of jurisdiction."
Farnworth has repeatedly said his top priority is ensuring an adequate level of police service is maintained in B.C.'s second most populous city.
Locke said provincial bureaucrats were "overplaying their hand'' by delaying the decision and "the province needs to do the right thing and confirm the city has the right to this decision.''
The mayor said at a news conference that "people that are in Victoria are trying to tell Surrey how to police their city, and that is a concern.''
RCMP are the police of jurisdiction in Surrey, Locke said.
"They are now, and they are moving forward.''
Locke said the city had provided the province with comprehensive plans for moving forward to keep the RCMP in Surrey and the request for more information was frustrating but promised the city will "get them every answer that we possibly can."
She said she had yet to speak with Farnworth but would later in the day.
Locke said the province had not given the city a timeline on when the decision might come through, and it is assessing its options moving forward.
"I think that sometimes the bureaucrats don't have their feet on the ground, and I actually find that a challenge for us to explain to them that the RCMP are who we want in the city. They're who the citizens of Surrey choose to have as their police service."
She also said the uncertainty will have an impact on the city's ability to complete its 2023 budget.
Surrey–White Rock Liberal MLA Trevor Halford criticized Farnworth for the lack of details on when the situation could be resolved, noting that many staff are uncertain about the future of their careers.
"This government needs to do the right thing. They need to make a decision, and they need to put timelines in place, so people understand when that is coming."