April 25, 2024

Before we get started with today’s board meeting, I want to make a few comments about Minister Farnworth’s announcement this week.

On Tuesday the Minister announced that Surrey Police Service will become the police of jurisdiction for Surrey on November 29, 2024.

I know this has been a very long road for both Surrey Police Service and the RCMP.  With the Minister’s decision on when SPS will be responsible for policing in Surrey, it is my hope that all parties will work together in the best interest of public safety and in the best interest of Surrey residents and taxpayers.

I want to thank everyone at SPS for their dedication and commitment to serving in Surrey.

I know these have been challenging times for you and your families. Often lost in this difficult transition is the personal impact this has had on all of you. As we move forward with the transition date on November 29th, please know that your service has not gone unnoticed.

Throughout this transition public safety has never been compromised and I know this has been a priority for SPS and the RCMP.  Thank-you for your outstanding efforts to keep everyone in Surrey safe. 

I want to address the matter of budgets and costs. There have been many inaccurate statements and estimates made about the overall cost of SPS – even as recently as yesterday.

The cost of policing is based on a number of factors including what the policing model will look like for Surrey. When we build an annual police budget – or a 5-year plan – it is important we do so in collaboration with city council, taking into account their priorities.

Surrey will soon be the largest city in British Columbia, and this requires public safety planning. Projecting how many police officers that are required will be an exercise between SPS, the Board and the City of Surrey.

To date, there have been no discussions between the Board and the city about any changes to the number of police officers required at end-state of this transition. Right now, the plan is to stay within the current authorized strength approved by council in their five-year financial plan, but I’m pleased to see that council approved an increase of 25 officers per year for the next five years.

The public should be very aware that it is the board and the council that work together on policing priorities and the required resources. Collaboration is key to meeting the expectation of the public we all serve.

I was frustrated to hear yesterday that Mayor Locke was using financial comparison estimates that assume SPS would have 900 police officers while the RCMP would have remained at 734 officers. This is not a scenario that would happen – if SPS required 900 officers at some point, so too would the RCMP. In addition, any increase in police officers for Surrey would go through a budgeting request process that would ultimately require the approval of City Council.

It is also not accurate to state that SPS having some two-person vehicles means we would need more officers. To make it as simple as possible, two-person vehicles means less cars, not more officers.  

The use of two person vehicles relates to the use, deployment, and efficiency of Frontline police officers – it doesn’t change the number of officers deployed, nor the number of officers that SPS would require to police Surrey safely and effectively.

Unfortunately, the Mayor used this information to inflate the costs of SPS by essentially comparing apples to oranges. What was said yesterday in the media was inaccurate and misleading.

I also want to correct a statement that has been made repeatedly by the City of Surrey that SPS was $22M overbudget in 2023.

SPS was not overbudget.

The Board submitted a budget that was ignored by City Council. Instead, council allocated a wind-down budget with the assumption that SPS would not exist past summer 2023.

Once it was clear that SPS would be the police of jurisdiction in Surrey, the City did not reallocate an appropriate budget for the remaining four months in 2023.  This issue is currently with the Director of Police Services to decide on the 2023 budget.

These misrepresentations and allegations that SPS is over budget are confusing and unfair to the public.

To be clear, the best source for the actual costs associated to SPS are in these Board meetings and in the financial reports we post regularly on our website.

I believe that taxpayers in Surrey understand that the longer this transition goes on the greater the costs will be. The City needs to support the work to transition as efficiently as possible to contain costs. The Board has no control or oversight of the RCMP budget or its demobilization from Surrey.

It is my sincere hope that the City of Surrey will once again work collaboratively with SPS on our shared services agreements to reduce costs and create better efficiencies. 

The retaliatory steps taken by the City of Surrey, such as not permitting new SPS hires onto their human resources platform only frustrates the transition and creates increased costs.  This is just one example. 

As Surrey moves forward with SPS, it will be up to future boards and city councils to work together to determine required police resources based on public safety trends, public expectations, and fiscal realities of the day.

My message to the residents of Surrey is this: the Surrey Police Board is here to work with the public and city council to create a police service that works for you.

A police service that meets your needs and your expectation and its budget can and will be managed – just the same as big cities like Vancouver and Toronto and small and mid-sized cities like Delta and Abbotsford manage their policing budgets.

Independent municipal police services exist in the Metro Vancouver region, Vancouver Island, and throughout Canada.

Surrey is the largest city in the country that is dependent on contracted policing services from the federal government. Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and every other large city manages policing within their city budgets.

Surrey Police Service is proudly ready to serve and with our final mandate from the Minister, this will be our focus moving forward.

I look forward to SPS taking command of policing in Surrey under the leadership of Chief Lipinski and it is my hope that all parties will support this path forward and do what is best for the public we serve.

Contact Info

Melissa Granum
Executive Director
Surrey Police Board
Phone: 604.598.5800
Email: media@surreypoliceboard.ca