October 22, 2018 9:07 pm
Updated: October 23, 2018 5:30 pm

B.C. government must approve ‘safety plan’ before Surrey can replace RCMP

BC Solicitor General Mike Farnworth explains what would happen if Surrey opted out of the current RCMP policing contract, one of the promises Surrey’s mayor-elect Doug McCallum made in his election campaign.

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The B.C. government will need to see a comprehensive plan to ensure that Surrey remains safe during a potential transition from the RCMP to a local police force.

Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum promised during the election campaign to get rid of the RCMP.

“Policing is a local government responsibility. Municipalities do decide what kind of policing they want,” said Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

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“The reality is it is a complex issue. Before any change takes place, it is my job as Solicitor General to make sure there is an effective policing option in Surrey.”

READ MORE: New Surrey mayor Doug McCallum sticks with plans for RCMP and rapid transit

Surrey must give the RCMP two years notice before making the policing change. According to the contract laid out with the Mounties, Surrey could give the two years heads-up before the plan is approved by the province.

But if the safety plan is not approved, then the city of Surrey would be on the hook for the all policing costs, rather than get substantial financial support from the federal and provincial government.

READ MORE: Surrey RCMP injects itself into civic election campaign

“They have to put together a plan on how they would go from existing RCMP services to a new police model,” Farnworth said.

“It is not as simple as just passing a motion at council that we are going to end the contract in two years. There needs to be a proper plan. While that plan is being produced, the contract stays in place.”

WATCH HERE: Former mayor Doug McCallum beats out Tom Gill in Surrey’s testy mayoral race

McCallum had a decisive victory on Saturday night, tallying 45,484 votes. His closest challenge, Tom Gill, got 28,473 votes in the municipal election. The Safe Surrey Coalition, led by McCallum, also captured seven of the eight seats on council.

Municipalities have had troubles changing police forces before. In 2012, the province ordered Victoria and Esquimalt to figure how to best operate their amalgamated police force, even through Esquimalt wanted to sign a contract with the RCMP instead.

WATCH HERE: 2018 Civic Elections: Surrey mayoral candidate wants RCMP gone

But McCallum says Surrey is in a unique situation because it has outgrown the RCMP. The Safe Surrey Coalition argued during the campaign that a local police force would be designed and trained to deal with urban issues. Surrey is currently the largest city in Canada to still use the RCMP.

The new Surrey Police Force will be governed by a governance board similar to Vancouver’s. It will be a nine-member board, chaired by the mayor, with three members coming from the province and five members selected from the Surrey community.

“I think the federal government and the province will stand up and look at Surrey and say, ‘Wow, they want to see these changes, we better cooperate with them,'” McCallum said. “The people have spoken in Surrey and governments listen to the people, especially if there’s an election next year and also in the province, which is really close.”

—With files from John Hua

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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