Surrey says it’s going to B.C. Supreme Court to stop transition to municipal police force | CBC News

Surrey says it’s going to B.C. Supreme Court to stop transition to municipal police force | CBC News

British Columbia

The City of Surrey said it’s filing a petition in B.C. Supreme Court challenging the province’s order to transition away from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

Opposition parties criticize legal petition against provincial order to continue move away from RCMP

CBC News


A woman with short blonde hair and dark eyeliner wears a grey textured blazer and stands at a white podium.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says the transition to a municipal police force will be too costly for residents of her city. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The City of Surrey said it’s filing a petition in B.C. Supreme Court challenging the province’s order to transition away from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

The move has been criticized by opposition city councillors — who said any legal process would be pointless and costly to taxpayers of the city of nearly 600,000 residents — and B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who said the challenge was “extremely disappointing.” 

In July, Farnworth ordered the city to continue the transition to the new Surrey Police Service (SPS), which began under previous mayor Doug McCallum’s tenure.

The move effectively forced Surrey city council to reverse an earlier decision to stick with the RCMP.

The pledge to keep the RCMP had been a major part of Mayor Brenda Locke’s campaign leading to her election last October.

On Friday, Locke argued the transition would cause an unacceptable tax increase at a time when Surrey residents are struggling to pay the bills.

“My team and I were elected to stop the proposed police transition,” Locke said in a news release, adding that the province’s orders “will not deliver any public safety benefit.”

WATCH | City launches court battle to keep RCMP: 

Surrey, B.C., launches court battle to keep RCMP

Featured VideoLawyer Peter German provides details of the city’s court petition calling for a judge to overturn the B.C. government’s order forcing Surrey to switch to a municipal police force.

‘Obviously the ship has sailed’

Surrey Coun. Linda Annis said the court filing was “a costly stalling tactic” and a “case of political ego running wild” at the expense of taxpayers.

Annis ran for council under the Surrey First party, which opposed both Locke’s and McCallum’s parties in the October 2022 election.

Annis said despite Locke’s election promise to keep the RCMP, her thin vote margin did not give her the mandate to rack up such massive costs to the public purse.

“The more we delay, the more it’s costing taxpayers,” Annis told CBC News in an interview. “It’s been the single focus of council now for the past five years at the expense of a lot of other things … Obviously the ship has sailed.”

Surrey councillors Mandeep Nagra and Doug Elford, with the Safe Surrey Coalition, also spoke out against the court petition. 

“This is yet another example of an egotistical mayor who can’t accept defeat,” said Coun. Mandeep Nagra in a party statement, which said the move shows “disregard for the fiscal responsibility and public safety” in the city.

On The Coast11:48Surrey mayor accused of stalling the police transition, city councillor comments

Featured VideoSurrey Mayor Brenda Locke is being accused of stalling the city’s transition from RCMP to a municipal force. Safe Surrey Coalition councillor Pardeep Kooner discussed this with us.

The city has retained prominent lawyer Peter German, a former RCMP deputy commissioner, for the court challenge.

German said Farnworth overstepped his authority when he ordered Surrey to continue moving to its own police force, a move whose costs would be borne by city taxpayers.

“Did the Solicitor General have the jurisdiction to make the decision he did in July?” German asked. “Surrey alleges the Minister did not.”

At a news conference Friday morning, German said the costs of cancelling the transition would “pale in comparison” with the cost of proceeding with it.

“If the transition were to continue, those costs actually escalate,” he told reporters, estimating the cost of having both forces operating during the transition at roughly $53 million a year. 

He added the Surrey RCMP has nearly triple the number front-line officers deployed than the SPS, and said the new force’s board “has been unable to hire the number of officers required.”

A navy blue police uniform is pictured with the words

A Surrey Police Service officer is pictured on April 22. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

‘Accept the decision and move forward’

Farnworth said the city’s move was “extremely disappointing” after the announcement Friday. 

He said he would be introducing legislation on Surrey’s police transition on Monday.

“People in Surrey want the uncertainty over who will police their city to end,” Farnworth said.

“They want government money spent on protecting their communities instead of on legal fees … The decision has been made, and it’s time for the city to accept the decision and move forward with the police transition.”

Farnworth said Surrey council has still not accepted the province’s offer of $150 million to offset the police transition’s costs.

He said he plans to introduce legislation on Monday to “provide a clear process” for any municipality hoping to replace its police force in the future. 

“We cannot allow people in Surrey or in other communities to be put at risk,” he said.

The city’s petition to the B.C. Supreme Court argues the province “is without lawful authority to assign to the city the responsibility to transition the city’s police of jurisdiction … without provision for resources required to fulfil the responsibility.”

The filings also state Farnworth has never “notified the city of any failure to properly staff or equip its police force” or “any other failure to maintain law and order.”


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Doug McCallum ran for election in 2022 with Surrey First; in fact, his party was the Safe Surrey Coalition.

    Oct 13, 2023 12:17 PM PT

With files from David P. Ball, Ethan Sawyer and Bethany Lindsay


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