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As SPS staffs up, the RCMP needs to wind down, and mayor needs to remove her roadblocks that cost time and money: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, B.C. (January 17, 2024): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says the city’s total policing budget is in good shape and can afford to pay Surrey Police Service recruits as long as Mayor Brenda Locke stops throwing up roadblocks that cost time and money. Annis was responding to the politically-motivated decision by the City of Surrey not to pay the salaries of 10 new SPS recruits.

Annis said that Locke capped the 2023 Surrey Police Service (SPS) budget at $48.75 million based on her decision to stop the transition and stay with the RCMP, which had a 2023 budget of $165.2 million. When the provincial government legislated that the transition to the SPS would continue, the SPS submitted a revised budget to city hall which has never been dealt with by mayor and council noted Annis.

“By not moving ahead with the revised SPS budget the mayor created an accounting issue on paper,” explained Annis. “But the money is actually there, and Surrey has more than enough policing budget to pay for SPS recruits, as long as the RCMP winds down as the SPS staffs up. The whole transition is based on an orderly downsizing of the RCMP as the SPS increases its numbers. That one-for-one approach has always been the plan, at least until Mayor Locke stalled the transition and limited the cooperation of city staff to finish the job.

“Because council did not move ahead with the revised SPS budget, the third quarter showed the RCMP had a positive variance of some $27 million, while the SPS had a negative variance of $23.4 million. Meanwhile, the total police budget showed a third quarter positive overall variance of nearly $4 million. The fact is that as the budget for the SPS grows, the budget for the RCMP has to be reduced.”

Annis said city hall should be cooperating fully with the transition in order to build the best possible municipal police force, but stalling by the mayor continues, and that limits the amount of cooperation from city staff.

“Using SPS recruits in a political fight is a terrible way to treat those men and women who have stepped up to keep our city safe,” added Annis. “The transition is now a legal reality and every time the mayor throws up a roadblock, it costs our taxpayers time and money. The fact is, Doug McCallum and Brenda Locke had multiple opportunities to hold a referendum that would have let the people of Surrey decide this issue. But both of them thought they knew best, and voters and taxpayers were ignored and sidelined. Now, the transition is the law, and we need to get on with it, so that we can start working on other important issues that have been ignored over the past five years.”