Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum dissolved the city’s Public Safety Committee on Monday afternoon, to the surprise of several city councillors.
At the regularly scheduled Public Safety Committee meeting at 1 p.m. Monday, McCallum announced it would be the last meeting of that committee.
He said he was dissolving the committee in favour of a Police Transition Advisory Committee (PTAC).
He cited section 141, subsection one of the Community Charter, which gives him that authority, by stating “The mayor must establish standing committees for matters the mayor considers would be better dealt with by committee and must appoint persons to those committees.”
He will announce appointments to the new PTAC committee at next week’s council meeting on July 22.
Issues that fall outside the purview of PTAC will be addressed by council separately, he said.
Coun. Brenda Locke said she was completely “blindsided” by the dismantling of the committee, but claims it speaks volumes of the mayor’s “my-way-or-the-highway” leadership style.
“The citizens of Surrey need to pay attention,” Locke said. “Their democracy is being impacted badly.”
She says that includes a lack of transparency and a lack of consultation.
“I’d say that’s problematic,” she said. “This is not democratic.”
Coun. Jack Hundial said the idea also caught him unaware.
“I have concerns,” Hundial said. He has asked the mayor to be included in the PTAC. “I want to work within the system… particularly on something as important as public safety.”
Coun. Linda Annis said she is “shocked” about the dissolution of the Public Safety Committee.
She said the transition committee is premature, as the province hasn’t approved Surrey’s transition plan.
“I don’t know why he would strike a committee to see this transition through, when we haven’t even heard back from the province,” Annis said.
She also noted the Public Safety Committee served a vital service for all issues of public safety before all of council..
“We need to have all councillors engaged in issues that face the city, not just the mayor’s inner circle,” Annis said.
McCallum said in a statement Tuesday that the switch was a necessary move in the evolution to a Surrey Police Department.
“A key task of this standing committee is to assist with the transition process leading up to the establishment of the Police Board that will provide oversight of the Surrey Police Department,” McCallum said. “This new committee is not permanent and is expected to be in place for three to six months.”
He reiterated that it’s in keeping with the timeline he expects for the new police force.
“I have always said the goal is to have Surrey Police up and running by April of 2021, which is why we are doing all that we can to ensure that no time is lost during the transition as we await the decision of the solicitor general,” McCallum said.
McCallum will be naming the members of the new committee at next Monday’s regular council meeting.