With the city report on Surrey’s move to a municipal police force set to be delivered to Victoria sometime next week, all eyes are on how the province will respond.
Premier John Horgan said Friday he’ll take the “wait-and-see” approach, but wouldn’t rule out extending public consultation after Victoria sees the report.
“I think we should look at the report and take it as presented, and then work with the mayor and council on how to better participate in a more fulsome consultation with the people of Surrey,” Horgan said.
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The premier also took aim at the way Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has clung to the issue since his campaign.
“I would like to think the people of Surrey would be able to do more than just vote in a municipal election on an issue as important as public safety,” he said.
“During a municipal campaign there are a range of issues, and to point to one or two and say, ‘This is my mandate,’ I think does a disservice to the broader public who maybe didn’t participate in the election.”
The report is set to be delivered to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in the coming days, but Horgan said McCallum has not been clear when exactly it will be ready.
Farnworth is ultimately responsible for giving the transition the go-ahead.
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Once the report is in Farnworth’s hands, the plan is for the report to be released to the public, followed by two to three weeks of public consultation.
Surrey city councillor Linda Annis said that public engagement should happen before the report is delivered, and that the public should also get a look at the document first.
“I really want the residents of Surrey to see the report before it goes to the province,” she said. “We need to be getting engagement now, not after the fact.
“We need to know what they want, and they need to know how it will impact them tax-wise and how it will make them feel safer.”
But fellow councillor Allison Patton said she’s confident the consultation period announced by the mayor will be sufficient.
“As I’ve always said, this is a 10-year vision in the sense that in 10 years, someone may say this is the best thing we’ve ever done, but not everyone’s saying that right now.”
Horgan, meanwhile, defended the Surrey RCMP in their efforts to respond to growing violent crime in the city.
“The RCMP have served the people of Surrey very well and the people of B.C.,” he said. “There will be complications either way, and I think it’s important we await the report and then at that time I’ll be in a better position to talk about consultation and so on.”