Surrey, BC, deal to transition police from RCMP to local police has been reached, minister says
3 mins read

Surrey, BC, deal to transition police from RCMP to local police has been reached, minister says

VANCOUVER — The long and contentious negotiation process between the British Columbia government and the City of Surrey over which department would oversee metropolitan Vancouver has ended with an extended cash deal.

Under the agreement, which comes into effect Nov. 29, the RCMP will be replaced by the independent Surrey Police Service under a 10-year, $250-million agreement between the province and the City of Surrey, Attorney General Mike Farnworth announced Wednesday.

He added that it provides safety for Surrey residents and ensures that the local government will not be collecting a police levy to cover transition costs for the next decade.

“This is a significant change,” Farnworth told a news conference. “This is the biggest change in policing in the history of the province, and indeed the country. We’ve had a lot of challenges along the way, but the most important thing is that we now have an agreement.”

It ends a bitter two-year process that has seen the city slinging insults and taking legal action as council tries to revert to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) amid its ongoing transformation into an independent police force.

The final agreement was reached after Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke informed council last month that she was accepting a court review application that found the province had the right to complete the transition from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to a local police force.

Locke, who did not attend the news conference, said earlier that despite accepting the British Columbia Supreme Court ruling, she still does not support a mandatory handover of the province to Surrey Police.

But Farnworth said Surrey council, including Locke, has already accepted the government’s $150-million transition offer, which provides an additional $20-million guarantee over five years to cover costs if Surrey police salaries are higher than what the city would pay RCMP officers.

“I haven’t talked to the mayor about an agreement yet,” he said. “I know the mayor is dealing with some personal issues, family issues, a death in the family, but the fact that the city of Surrey and the province have reached this agreement, I think it’s a sign that we all want to move forward and I’m very pleased that it’s happening.”

On November 29, the Surrey Police Service will become the city’s official police force, Farnworth said.

The Ministry of the Attorney General said the Surrey Police Service, with 431 sworn officers and staff, is already the second largest municipal police department in British Columbia, after the Vancouver Police Department.

Farnworth acknowledged the transformation process has been bumpy at times, but said the end result will benefit the province, city and local residents.

“It’s about moving forward,” he said. “That’s what the city of Surrey wants. That’s what the province wants and what the people of Surrey want and, just as importantly, that’s what the hard-working men and women of Surrey want, whether it’s the Surrey Police Service or the RCMP.”

—By Dirk Meissner in Victoria

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

Canadian Press