British Columbia Premier David Eby says the City of Surrey needs to come to the table to work on implementing its transition to a municipal police force — and that there will be no additional money to sweeten the pot.
The province has already pledged $150 million to help the city offset costs of completing its transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.
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On Monday, Eby splashed cold water on the prospect of additional funds.
“There’s $150 million on the table Surrey hasn’t taken us up on. They have a surplus in the budget, they have surplus in their policing budget, they have a surplus over all. There is no more money,” Eby said.
The comments are the latest salvo in the war of words over the controversial police transition.
Mayor Brenda Locke was elected last October on a pledge to undo the switch. In July, the province ordered the city to complete the transition, saying the city had failed to show moving back to the RCMP would be safe and not affect policing in other B.C. communities.
Surrey has since taken the province to court over the order, while the province has introduced new legislation to force the transition through and to set out rules for any other municipality thinking of moving to a municipal force.
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Locke has said completing the transition would leave the city facing a $314-million shortfall over the next decade.
But Eby said the province has not been shown any evidence on those costs.
“We heard from them early on in the process, $50 million a year figure over three years, so we put $15o million on the table. There was a suggestion that wasn’t nearly enough later on. We’ve seen nothing,” Eby said.
“Having a shadow-boxing discussion about money on line items we don’t have awareness of, we don’t know what the mayor is talking about when she says there’s more costs, it’s just impossible.”
Eby said Locke had raised valid questions about costs to implement the transition that weren’t properly addressed by the previous mayor and council “for political reasons.”
He called on her to partner with the province to hammer out those details, but said fighting over the transition in court will only increase the final cost.
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