More than 200 people packed Surrey council chambers Monday afternoon to voice their displeasure with a budget one city councillor called a disaster.
Surrey is considering a budget that requires vast sums of money to pay for the transition to a new police force instead of the RCMP. Many who attended the city’s finance committee (all of council) were fuzzy on why the city is forging ahead with the plan.
Darlene Bennett, the wife of a Paul Bennett, who was murdered in Clayton in June, 2018, said the budget is misallocating money.
The plan calls for a freeze on hiring police and firefighters for a second year in a row.
“The games you are playing have real consequences,” Bennett told Surrey councillors. “Just talk to my children. Tell them how this haphazard plan is going to make them feel safe walking to school.
“Explain to them how a change in uniform is going to make all the difference in the world, because I can’t.”
About two dozen speakers joined the chorus in asking Surrey to back off of it’s plan to switch policing models.
Surrey fire union president Mark McRae paused for 30 seconds at the beginning of his timed address to council. He did that to demonstrate what it would feel like to have an increased response time of firefighters.
“Seconds matter,” McRae told council. “It’s important to share that, because as we move forward with this budget as it’s currently drafted, the time it takes for (Surrey) fire to respond will be negatively impacted.”
Four city councillors voiced strong opposition to the budget as drafted.
“This budget exist for one reason, and that’s to support (police) transition,” Coun. Steven Pettigrew told his colleagues.
“This budget is a disaster, it’s going to hurt the people of this city, and it’s going to hurt us now,” Pettigrew said. “I don’t want anything to do with it.”
Couns. Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial, Linda Annis and Pettigrew all opposed the budget at committee.
Couns. Douglas Elford, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton, Laurie Guerra and Mayor Doug McCallum supported it.
It was expected to go to council Monday night for final approval.
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