B.C. to bring in law forcing Surrey to go with municipal police force

BC to force law on Surrey

British Columbia Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has introduced legislation that will require the City of Surrey to provide policing with a municipal force in the latest jurisdictional salvo over the RCMP and the Surrey Police Service.

The update in the Police Act also gives the province the authority to cancel the RCMP contract it has with Surrey, B.C.'s second most populous city behind Vancouver.

Farnworth introduced the Police Amendment Act Monday in the legislature, where he said the change would provide Surrey residents with "clarity and finality" on the future of the city's police services.

He said the changes would require any municipality that has approval from the province to change its police force to "proceed to completion" once the transition starts.

In a written statement, Farnworth said a lack of clarity in the existing Police Act was "exposed" during the Surrey police transition process.

He said the new amendments would ensure that the "confusion caused by the City of Surrey won't be repeated elsewhere in B.C."

"People deserve to know who is protecting their homes, families and businesses when there is a change in policing in their community," Farnworth said in the statement.

"When passed, these amendments will ensure policing transitions proceed in a way that provides certainty for people and maintains public safety."

The proposed legislation comes just days after the City of Surrey filed a petition in court asking for a judicial review of the B.C. government's directive that it must continue its transition to the local police force.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke was elected last year on a campaign to reverse the city's change to the independent Surrey Police Service back to the RCMP.

The City of Surrey has said the municipality would face a shortfall of $314 million over a 10-year period if it was forced to complete the transition to the Surrey Police Service, while the province only offered $150 million to aid the shift.

The new legislation also gives the province the power to appoint an administrator to "assume the functions" of the Surrey Police Board to oversee the municipal force.

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