A group wanting to keep the RCMP in Surrey hopes to be a part of Canada Day celebrations in Cloverdale but claims the mayor isn’t allowing its plans to go ahead.
Ivan Scott, co-ordinator of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign, says city officials twice denied him permission to establish a booth for the group at Canada Day celebrations in the Bill Reid Amphitheatre.
Scott says he was told the booth would not be appropriate for a family-friendly event and that it “isn’t usually done.”
In a statement, the City of Surrey said it is dedicated to “creating an inclusive, political-free environment where all residents of Surrey can celebrate their national pride on Canada Day.”
“The booths and activities on site focus on family activities and community celebrations, and as such, the City of Surrey currently does not include any booths with political messaging or canvassing of event attendees on site,” Surrey’s parks and recreation manager Laurie Cavan said.
Cavan also said a “rally/political speech area” will be set up on the sidewalk along 64 Avenue and 177B Street to allow groups to share their message and canvass for signatures.
However, Scott alleges this is part of what he feels is a longstanding, deliberate campaign by the mayor to silence his group and squelch any attempts to engage with the public on the pros of keeping the RCMP in Surrey.
“I’ve tried to engage him, never had any response,” Scott said.
“We’ve put in a delegation application, where we can sit in front of the council and give it as it is, what we’ve found and what we’re after… and we’ve just been ignored.”
Global News has reached out to Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum regarding Scott’s claims but has yet to receive a response.
WATCH: Second city councillor leaves Surrey mayor’s coalition
The news comes after two Surrey city councillors left McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition to sit as independents. Brenda Locke announced her departure from the party on Thursday, saying Surrey’s council was becoming “dysfunctional” and cited conflict over McCallum’s approach to transitioning Surrey from the RCMP to a municipal police force as a key driver of her decision.
Steven Pettigrew left the Safe Surrey Coalition last month. At the time, he said he had been thinking about the move for several months, adding that “he can’t take it any more.”
Despite the departures, McCallum said he plans to carry on with his agenda.
“We were elected on the basis of a platform that we intend to complete for the residents of Surrey,” he said.
— With files from Janet Brown, John Copsey and Simon Little