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Surrey mayor announces members of new police transition advisory committee

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is under fire once again, this time for appointing only his political allies to a new committee that will oversee the transition from RCMP to municipal police. Keith Baldrey has the details.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has appointed his Safe Surrey Coalition colleagues on council to sit on his new police transition advisory committee.

The new committee replaces Surrey’s public safety committee, which was recently done away with by the mayor and included all of council.

Left out of the new committee are independent councillors Jack Hundial, Brenda Locke and Stephen Pettigrew as well as Surrey First Coun. Linda Annis.

Locke said she believes that of all the city councillors, Hundial should have been appointed to the committee since he’s a former RCMP officer.

“It should be a surprise and concern to everybody that Coun. Hundial was not involved in that because he’s the one with more experience than all of them put together so that should be concerning,” Locke said. “Was it not expected? It was definitely expected.”

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The mayor immediately left council chambers after Monday night’s meeting, refusing to stay and take questions from reporters, who repeatedly called out to him.

This is the third council meeting in a row in which the mayor hasn’t stayed behind to talk with reporters.

Hundial said he isn’t impressed.

“Not just the mayor — I think the other councillors, too, need to engage with the public. It’s one thing during the campaign; we’re going to be out consulting with the public and engaged with the public,” Hundial said. “We have a lot of things going on here, and the community wants to know what’s going on not just in policing but in housing, transportation.”

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Meanwhile, Pettigrew says he would support a referendum on the city’s proposed move from the RCMP to a civic police force.

“I’ve had so much involvement with people who are concerned about the transition, and it seems a logical place to go so if people want to start to talk about that, I’m willing to listen,” Pettigrew said.

While city councillors are debating the policing transition, it’s ultimately up to the province to approve the change.

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Also at Monday night’s meeting, Surrey council unanimously approved two permanent modular housing projects after nearly a three-hour-long public hearing. Dozens turned out to have their say about the two projects, one of which will be in Guildford while the other is set to be in Whalley. The two projects will include a total of about 100 units.

These units will be the first of several permanent, supportive housing sites promised by the provincial government to replace the temporary ones set up in Whalley last summer.