Four Surrey councillors in a heated dispute with Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum have teamed up to sound the alarm over what they call a rushed police transition report.Three councillors who left McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition to sit as independents this summer — Brenda Locke, Steven Pettigrew, and Jack Hundial — and Surrey First councillor Linda Annis released a joint statement Thursday outlining their concerns.In the statement, they say although they voted to replace the RCMP with a Surrey police force, they did not expect the police transition plan to be developed behind closed doors without advice or input.Among the concerns, they say the mayor’s deadline for transition is “extremely challenging, if not impossible” and the community has not been engaged in a meaningful way.They say the “rushed nature” of the plan caused some public safety concerns, such as calling for fewer police officers in Surrey.Earlier this week, McCallum appointed the remaining four of his Safe Surrey Coalition members to his police transition advisory committee.He created the new committee after dismantling the public safety committee in favour of the new one, a move that Hundial, a longtime RCMP officer, called the “final straw” in his decision last week to leave the Safe Surrey Coalition to sit as an independent.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum McCallum responded in an emailed statement that seems to accuse the four politicians of being “disingenuous” by not following through on election promises.
Jason Payne /
In an interview Thursday, Annis said they want the mayor to reinstate the public safety committee, and for the provincial government to take into account their issues when considering the transition plan.“I think (the police transition advisory committee) is way too premature, it has not been approved by Victoria or Minister (Mike) Farnsworth’s office. We don’t know if this report will be approved,” she said. “Quite frankly the report is very incomplete, so I doubt that it will be approved.”She said the public safety committee was not just about policing but dealt with bylaws, fire department, the fentanyl crisis, and oversaw at risk youth programs.“In my opinion it was a mistake to cancel the public safety committee and form a committee that really has no purpose at this time.”Coun. Pettigrew said residents are telling him they’re upset about the lack of public consultation and he’s fielded “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds” of calls, emails and letters on the issue.“I’ve stopped counting,” he said. “As a member of the council, I haven’t been consulted. … We haven’t been involved in this whole transition process. It’s been run by the mayor since day one.”He said as a councillor, he doesn’t have all the answers, and “I always want to consult the public and get their feedback” so he can rely on their input.McCallum responded Thursday afternoon in an emailed statement that seems to accuse the four politicians of being “disingenuous” by not following through on election promises.“Politicians are often taken to task for not keeping their promises. Along with Councillors Elford, Guerra, Nagra and Patton, I fully intend to see through what I campaigned on and promised to do,” McCallum’s statement read.“With the exception of Linda Annis, the councillors who are now voicing their opposition were more than happy to promise to the voters that they would deliver on a city police department, if elected. … It is disingenuous at best and, at worst, this is another cynical example of hollow promises made by those seeking office and doing an about-face once voted in.”In the statement signed by Annis and others, the councillors also raised concerns about the cost of the project, and say they believe the operating costs for the city police department will be higher than the suggested 10 per cent increase over the contract with the RCMP.“The risk that this transition will make Surrey a less safe community is just too high. Our primary duty to the citizens is effective public safety,” the four said, in the statement.“Our citizens deserve to be heard and feel safe. The mayor’s transition report does not measure up.”McCallum said in a press release that the goal is to have the municipal police force operating by April 2021.He added that the Safe Surrey Coalition members he appointed to the new committee are “collectively focused on ensuring that we are doing all that we can towards the achievement of that goal.”The city submitted a plan for its proposed police force to the province in May, though it has yet to be approved by Farnworth.email@example.com— with files from Jennifer Saltman and Zac Vescera