Let me start 2020 with a rant and a reminder.
Only 32 percent of eligible voters voted in the last Surrey municipal election and now look at the mess we are in.
CARP National stands with our White Rock-Surrey Chapter in demanding that Mayor Doug McCallum reverse his plans for a Surrey Police Department (SPD) and his devastating budget, which undercuts a variety of services for seniors.
It’s critical that seniors are safe in their communities in order to reap the considerable benefits of social inclusion in healthy aging.
The White Rock Surrey Chapter of Canada’s largest non-profit association representing more than 330,000 older Canadians joined forces with the Keep the RCMP in Surrey B.C. campaign in early December 2019.
We are actively seeking more signatures to add to the current petition which already has more than 38,000 signees.
Our chapter is also supporting initiatives of four Surrey city councillors who are opposing the budget which was passed in a matter of minutes on Dec. 16 amidst loud protests from many Surrey residents in attendance. They are Couns. Linda Annis, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and Stephen Pettigrew.
Prior to the disastrous budget vote, there was a council meeting on Dec. 3. More than 50 residents spoke out opposing the proposed budget. They included the Surrey Firefighters Association and Darleen Bennett, wife of hockey dad and nurse Paul Bennett who was shot in his driveway in 2018, the unintended victim of a targeted gang shooting.
A few reasons for joining forces with those opposing the budget are as follows:
• A new Surrey Police Department means fewer officers than we have today: 805 SPD vs 845 RCMP.
• RCMP guarantee a full contingent of officers, even when officers are off sick or on vacation, while the SPD model cannot back-fill vacancies.
• Car 67, the specialized unit which pairs an officer and mental health professional, will be discontinued under the SPD, when the need is climbing.
• Vancouver’s police department has more than 1,400 members; the SPD will have barely 800 yet Surrey’s population is larger than Vancouver’s and is growing.
• The “11 per cent” cost increase of the SPD vs RCMP cost cannot be verified by anyone at Surrey city hall.
• The mayor proposes running “two” police forces during transition, a costly and chaotic proposition.
• Training prospective SPD officers will be a serious challenge because the Justice Institute is already at capacity in terms of the officers they can train each year.
• Changing the badges of the officers will not solve gang crime.
In the words of Coun. Linda Annis, “I think the idea of the SPD and the way the mayor is dealing with it deserves a failing grade. There’s nothing about the transition report that gives anyone any confidence that we’re spending money wisely, or even solving a policing or public safety problem.”
CARP members have also told us they are afraid to go out after dark because they do not feel safe. This leads to social isolation, which leads to health problems, which becomes a needless burden to our already overtaxed health-care system.
If you want to sign the Keep the RCMP in Surrey B.C. petition, you may do so at the following locations:
• Art Knapp, 4391 King George Blvd.; Ethical Addictions, 1558 128 St.; Ocean Park-Surrey New and Used Building Materials, 17861 64 Ave.; Instant Imprints, 15292 Croydon Drive; South Surrey-Aquarius Dental, 19390 68 Ave.; Vlassis Greek Taverna, 10026 King George Blvd.
By signing this petition, you can make up for your apathy at the polling booth.
April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.