Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has once again turned up the heat on Surrey council with a second letter as Mayor Brenda Locke’s Surrey Connect majority intends to retain the RCMP as the police of jurisdiction rather than continue transitioning to the Surrey Police Service.
Locke has not replied to requests for comment.
In a follow-up to his first letter on June 1 – in which he pressed council to make a final decision, which Locke has argued is the city’s alone to make – Farnworth’s second letter sent June 13 expresses concern that his ministry’s staff were told by city staff they will not be provided an advance copy of a corporate report before it comes before council for a critical vote on the future of policing in Surrey.
“It is troubling from a public safety perspective that Ministry officials are prevented an opportunity to provide advice regarding the suitability of the proposed plan to meet the mandatory and non-negotiable conditions,” Farnworth’s second letter to council reads. “It is also contrary to the good faith that Ministry Officials and City staff have been operating in to ensure that all relevant information is presented to Council to make an informed decision.”
“This information sharing is critical to ensure that the Corporate Report drafted by City staff for Council’s consideration adequately addresses the mandatory conditions, requirements, financial implications including, full costing, and other relevant implications for each police model to ensure safe and effective policing in Surrey,” Farnworth wrote. “Ministry officials were informed that City staff have received direction to not provide a copy of the Corporate Report in advance of Council’s further direction on this matter.”
Farnworth warned that this could result in council voting on a plan that “may not” meet “mandatory conditions and obligations placed on the City for either police model” and expressed concern that should Surrey council “vote on a plan that does not adequately address the mandatory and binding conditions on the transition, this already precarious situation could become further destabilized in an expedited timeline. This could create a policing crisis which puts into question safe and effective policing in the City of Surrey.”
Council is set to consider a “Special Council Agenda” this afternoon (Thursday, June 15), during a meeting that is closed to the public.