B.C. says ‘final offer’ on table in bid to push Surrey police transition forward

Click to play video: 'Province says ‘final offer’ on the table for Surrey police transition'
Province says ‘final offer’ on the table for Surrey police transition
B.C.'s public safety minister says the province's final funding offer is now on the table to help foot the bill for the Surrey police transition. Catherine Urquhart reports. – Mar 13, 2024

B.C.’s solicitor general says the province has put a “final offer” on the table to help cover the cost of Surrey’s police transition.

“We have been in discussions with the City of Surrey. There is an offer on the table. We think it’s good for the City of Surrey,” Mike Farnworth said Wednesday.

Farnworth would not confirm the value of the offer or speak to other details of the deal.

Click to play video: 'Surrey Police Service proposed budget'
Surrey Police Service proposed budget

The BC Conservatives, however, claim the province is putting up an additional $110 million, citing an unnamed source.

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“What’s important is not where we got the figure from, what’s important is this is (Premier) David Eby’s mess,” Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman said.

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“This is an absolute debacle, and there is a history of treating Surrey residents like second-class citizens.”

The province has already offered Surrey $150 million over five years to help cover additional costs of completing its transition from the RCMP to a municipal force.

In October, Eby said there was “no more money” forthcoming.

Click to play video: 'Surrey city council  doubles down in its rejection of Surrey Police Service'
Surrey city council doubles down in its rejection of Surrey Police Service

The transition, which began in 2018 under former mayor Doug McCallum, ran into speedbumps after current Mayor Brenda Locke was elected on a pledge to stop it and keep the RCMP.

The province ultimately ordered Surrey to complete the transition and replaced the Surrey Police Board with a special administrator to push the work through.

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Locke, meanwhile, is spearheading a legal challenge to the province’s order.

On Wednesday, Locke refused to comment on the province’s latest offer.

“The city is and was in discussions with the province. We won’t be sharing, I won’t be sharing any details at this time,” she told CKNW’s The Jas Johal Show.

“Needless to say, there has been no change in the legal action that the City of Surrey is taking against the province … our legal team continues to prepare that case. So from our perspective, there has been no change.

In November, the administrator appointed to replace the police board projected Surrey Police Service officers would outnumber their RCMP counterparts by the end of 2024.

On Wednesday, Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski said he was still waiting for a decision on the police force’s $141.5 million 2024 budget.

There has been no official date set for the SPS to take over as Surrey’s police of jurisdiction.

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