May 23, 2019 11:15 am
Updated: May 23, 2019 3:17 pm

Surrey begins public engagement on proposed new police force

People living in Surrey will have their say on what the city's new civic police force will look like. As Neetu Garcha reports this first round of public consultations is raising fresh concerns on how the city plans on paying for the police transition.

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The City of Surrey is launching public engagements on its proposed new police department Thursday.

Residents are being invited to the Cloverdale Recreation Centre from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a consultation session on the proposed force.

READ MORE: Surrey to host first public consultation on switch to civic police force

The city says it wants to collect input on the priorities that residents want to shape the department.

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Surrey has scheduled more than a dozen other events, including consultation sessions, pop-up kiosks and survey stations, at various locations through the end of June.

It is also collecting feedback through an online portal at Surreypolice.ca.

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The consultations come after Surrey city council received a confidential report on policing transition Wednesday, which has since been forwarded to the provincial government for review.

“The creation of a Surrey police department was one of two major initiatives unanimously passed by council on the night we were sworn in, and (on Wednesday), council has had the opportunity to view the full report,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in a statement.

“I am confident that our plan fully details how we will successfully transition to a city police department and I look forward to hearing back from the solicitor general.”

Linda Annis, Surrey’s sole opposition councillor, described the report’s contents as shocking.

“I can’t talk specifically about the report but I can say I was shocked and I guess it really beckons the question – why are we switching badges?” she said.

Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts says it will be difficult for the public to participate in a meaningful way without having a look at the report.

“If the information is incomplete then the consultation process is skewed and denies  the general general public from the opportunity of providing fully informed comments,” Watts told Global News.

“The general public is entitled to a full cost analysis and a report identifying options of  how it will be paid for.  In order to squash the rumours that money will be taken from land sales – recreation programs and capital projects and the Homeless and a housing Foundation.”

In a statement, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the province won’t rush into any decisions, and said he expects the report to be made public in the coming weeks.

“Surrey’s proposal… deals with many complex issues, so it will be important not to rush this. Staff will review and provide advice to me to determine the next steps.”

Cancelling the City of Surrey’s contract with the Surrey RCMP and developing its own police department with a city-appointed board were among McCallum’s key campaign promises in last October’s municipal election.

A confidential memo previously obtained by Global News has indicated the city hopes to begin recruitment for the new force by July of this year, with the goal of having the department in operation by July 2020.

McCallum has said the new force would be headquartered in the Surrey RCMP’s current main detachment on Highway 10.

—With files from Janet Brown

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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