Surrey to bear the cost of ‘ambitious’ switch from RCMP to municipal police

By Shannon Waters March 12, 2020

A redacted version of the Provincial Municipality Policing Transition Study Committee’s report was published on Tuesday, outlining the next steps for the City of Surrey to make the switch from federal to municipal policing.
Many of the specifics of how the new police force will operate will be determined by the municipal police board, which has yet to be appointed. Pension provisions and collective agreement details will also be finalized by the Surrey police board, which will be composed of seven members to start — Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, a city council appointee and five members appointed by the province.
“The establishment of the SPD, while ambitious, is also achievable if assumptions and risks noted in the report can be successfully addressed and managed,” the committee wrote.
The report proposes a municipal force of 805 officers — the RCMP is currently authorized to deploy 843 officers, but as of last year, not all of the positions were filled.
Getting the new force up and running will cost an estimated $11.8 million with the new department looking to acquire much of its equipment from the existing RCMP detachment.
If it is up and running in 20201, the Surrey Police Department will cost the city an estimated $192.5 million, according to the city’s report on the transition, while continuing with the RCMP would require $173.6 million from the city plus $21.6 million in subsidies and tax exemptions from the federal and provincial governments.
The public safety ministry told BC Today the province does not provide “any tax breaks related to policing,” but Ottawa currently covers about 10 per cent of the Surrey RCMP’s costs.
“All decisions and responsibilities regarding direct costs for the Surrey Police Department rest with the City of Surrey and the Surrey Police Board, once established,” reads a statement from the ministry. “We don’t anticipate added costs to the province.”
The committee’s lengthy report was “reviewed and redacted based on privacy, security and operational decisions,” ahead of its release, per the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
“Transitioning a police department of this size is a significant and complex undertaking,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a statement. “The Policing Model Transition Secretariat will continue to provide leadership and support as this process proceeds, ensuring that provincial accountabilities, public safety, and police oversight are maintained.”