Surrey asks court to review province’s order on police transition

13 Oct 2023 | Canada | 112 |
Surrey asks court to review province’s order on police transition

The City of Surrey has launched a petition in B.C.’s Supreme Court to try and halt the ongoing transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

It is seeking a judicial review of the province’s July 19 decision to try and force the municipality to go through with the police transition.

The city said it opposes the transition as it would result in a “significant tax burden” at a time when Surrey residents already are facing “existing affordability challenges.”

“My team and I were elected to stop the proposed police transition,” said Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke.

“Surrey simply cannot accept the extraordinary burden that our taxpayers will face as a result of a provincial order that will not deliver any public safety benefit.”

Surrey has hired Peter German, a lawyer and former RCMP executive, to “support the city” on the matter.

“I believe council put forward a sensible plan to keep the RCMP, which is in the best interest of taxpayers and public safety,” German said in a statement. “The warnings about higher costs and inability to recruit frontline officers for the Surrey Police Service have all come true, and the city has an obligation to act in the public interest.”

In addition to the court proceeding, the city has sent a letter to the province outlining its ongoing concerns.

“We continue to oppose the transition because it is far too expensive and poorly planned,” Locke wrote in the letter.

“While the Police Act states the minister is responsible for ensuring an adequate and effective level of policing and law enforcement throughout B.C., it does not authorize the minister to choose the model of policing for a municipality. The model of policing is a decision that is the responsibility of the City of Surrey, as set out by the Police Act.”

A Surrey City Councillor voiced her displeasure with the City of Surrey’s decision to go forward with the court petition.

Linda Annis said the decision, which was made by Locke, will be a “costly stalling tactic” that will leave Surrey residents picking up the bill.

“This whole thing isn’t about what’s good for our city, it is clearly about political ego,” said Annis.

“Our taxpayers paid more than $300,000 to defend Doug McCallum around the issue of having his foot run over in a grocery store parking lot. Can you imagine the time it will take and the millions it will cost to take the province to court over the transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service? Clearly, tax dollars don’t mean anything to Brenda Locke.”

Friday morning Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth issued a statement in response to the filing.

“It is extremely disappointing that the municipal government of Surrey has decided to spend significant taxpayer dollars on lawyers, trying to further delay the transition to the Surrey Police Service, by taking legal action against the province,” he said.

Farnworth said Surrey residents want the “uncertainty” to be over with and want the political squabbles to end.

“The decision has been made, and it’s time for the city to accept the decision and move forward with the police transition,” Farnworth said in the release.

“As solicitor general, the decision to direct Surrey to continue the transition to the SPS was made within my responsibility to ensure community safety for people in Surrey and all of British Columbia. It was made after careful consideration of all the information provided by the RCMP, the city, and the SPS, and it was not made lightly.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is speaking in Quebec right now. Says this is a waste of tax payer money and is confident the province will win in court. “The transition must continue.” #bcpoli

— Richard Zussman (@richardzussman) October 13, 2023

Farnworth said on Monday, Oct. 16, the province will be introducing new legislation that “will provide clarity to the people of Surrey” and will provide a clear process for any municipality that wants to change its police of jurisdiction.”

Farnworth did not go into detail about what that legislation will look like.

He also said Surrey has not accepted $150 million of “financial assistance” that is intended to help offset the costs of the transition.

— More to come …

by Global News