The province has “green-lighted” Surrey’s bid to move to a municipal police force instead of the RCMP.
B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced Thursday that he’s given the “go ahead” for Surrey to proceed.
However, he has installed long-time justice Hon. Wally Oppal as chair of a committee that will oversee the transition. Even opponents of the move to a municipal force are celebrating that decision.
“What is happening was bound to happen, ” said Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke. “But this is where it gets real.”
Locke, who is well-acquainted with Oppal, said he will leave no stone unturned in his examination of the process so far, an undertaking in which she has been critical.
“The process has been flawed, so this part is very positive for Surrey,” Locke added.
Former mayor Dianne Watts was also extremely critical of the process so far, particularly the public engagement.
“The public consultation that was undertake was a absolute sham,” Watts told Pulse FM in an interview Thursday. “The public to this day has no idea what the cost is going to be.”
Watts also says no one has adequately explained the question about why the switch.
“No one has been able to articulate that at all,” Watts said. “It’s just been, get rid of the RCMP and put in a municipal force.”
There is a possibility the transition could turn out differently than most anticipate.
Oppal has been a long-time proponent of regional policing. Some believe that may be on the table.
“That may indeed be exactly what happens,” Locke told Pulse FM. “It may take a significant turn.”
To ensure all key issues are addressed and all complex details are in place to facilitate the transition, a joint project team has been created.
The joint transition committee will be chaired by Oppal. It will work to provide advice to the Director of Police Services through to the Solicitor General (relating to the establishment of Surrey’s first municipal police department).