Surrey mayor says she's accepted review forcing police transition

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says she has accepted the province's mandated transition of city policing from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service, but remains disappointed by the outcome of a recent judicial review.

"We are moving forward with what the city needs to do to ensure that our residents are prioritized with the provincially legislated police transition," Locke said during a council meeting on Monday night.

The mayor's comments signal the end of an almost two-year-long battle with the province over the issue.

But while she accepts the transition, Locke said she continues to believe it's not in the best interests of Surrey residents.

"It is clear that it will be more expensive for the city to transition to the SPS compared to maintaining the RCMP," she said.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke have engaged in multiple back-and-forth discussions over the last five months as city council voted to halt the transition to a municipal police department.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke engaged in multiple back-and-forth discussions over the policing transition since Locke's election as mayor in October 2022. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

During Monday's meeting, Locke laid out the city's priorities and next steps, saying that "cost differentials are significant and they must be addressed."

CBC News contacted the mayor but was told she is not commenting at this time.

In May, the city lost a judicial review after a B.C. Supreme Court judge upheld changes to the provincial Police Act that forced the City of Surrey to transition policing to a municipal force.

Justice Kevin Loo dismissed Locke's bid to halt the transition — a key promise of her 2022 municipal election campaign — after nearly two years of feuding with the B.C. government over the future of policing in the province's second largest and fastest growing municipality.

Ian MacDonald with the SPS said hiring has been happening behind the scenes for months, and the service now has a staff of 367 officers and 60 civilians.

"We hope that momentum is regained and that we will be able to expedite what is now this long overdue policing transition," MacDonald said.

In a social media post, the Safe Surrey Coalition led by former mayor Doug McCallum — who initiated the transition to the SPS during his last tenure — said Locke should resign "for wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money."

"Brenda Locke wasted two years and $150 million of taxpayer dollars opposing the transition. She should be ashamed of herself of wasting taxpayer money for her own ego," read the post.

On CBC Radio's The Early Edition, Surrey Coun. Linda Annis said it's time for Locke to put the past behind her.

"I think what she needs to do moving forward is be fully co-operative with this transition," Annis said.