Public consultation set to begin on Surrey's municipal police force

A city councillor is demanding more transparency before public consultation begins this week on Surrey's transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

Linda Annis says Surrey residents still don't know basic details, such as how much the change will cost.

"So far, decisions have been made behind closed doors and frankly that makes me nervous," she said. "I want complete transparency, with taxpayers having their say."

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he consulted extensively with voters during the election campaign and his decisive victory gives him the mandate to create the city's own police department.

"That's why I'm elected sitting here is because I listen to the public," he said earlier this month. "They tell me what they'd like me to do if I get elected, and that's what I do."

The city is hosting a series of consultation events over the next several weeks. The first forum will run Thursday afternoon from three to seven at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre on May 23.

Ben Nelms/CBC

Still waiting

Details about the transition are outlined in a report, which Annis still hasn't seen, that was supposed to be completed by the end of April.

Councillors will get to review the plan before it is sent to B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth for approval but it's unclear if and when it will be made public.

Annis says it makes no sense to ask the community to provide feedback on a policing plan they haven't seen.

"This is our city's largest annual expenditure and it's going to be with us for generations," she said.

"People need all the facts in order to make sure they're comfortable with the added costs that come with a local police department."

McCallum has repeatedly said the new police force will cost about 10 per cent more than the city's current deal with the RCMP.

Annis says she believes the cost could be as much as 60 per cent higher.