Controversial Surrey budget passed during divided council meeting

Dec 17 2019, 3:36 pm

Surrey city council approved its controversial five-year financial plan during a heated city council meeting Monday night.

Council voted to approve the budget which allocates $129 million to the Surrey Police Force transition project and implements a hiring freeze on Surrey RCMP and Surrey Fire Services.

Residents and community members in attendance were divided over the subject. Many erupted in jeers and boos as Mayor McCallum and the remaining members of Safe Surrey Coalition passed the budget.

“Okay, listen I’m not going to put up with that. The ones who are shouting I am going to ask you to please leave,” said McCallum during the meeting.

The mayor eventually called for a recess as tensions grew in the crowd.

Following the recess, the budget was passed and McCallum said he would not allow speakers due to “safety conditions.”

“Mr. Mayor you will let us speak,” shouted Counc. Steven Pettigrew, who proceeded to turn his back on the McCallum.

“That completes the budget for next year,” said McCallum over shouts from the crowd. “I call a recess now.”

Earlier this month, Dwayne McDonald, Assistant Commissioner of the Surrey RCMP, says that the repercussions of Surrey city council’s police hiring freeze will be “detrimental.”

“It is important that we acknowledge the detrimental effect this will have on our service delivery model and on the health and wellness of our members and municipal support staff,” wrote McDonald in an emailed statement, adding that it’s unreasonable to “see crime go down in a growing city without relative increases to police resources.”

The motion to create a city-based police department was first approved by the Surrey city council on November 5, 2018.

The plan stresses that a local police force will be “more responsive” to the changing conditions and demands of the community. It’s also mentioned that out of the 19 Canadian population centres with more than 300,000 residents, Surrey is the only community that doesn’t have a local police force.

With files from Vincent Plana. 

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