Things got a bit tense during Surrey council’s Monday night meeting when Mayor Doug McCallum denied one councillor’s request to table a motion that would allow the public to see the city’s policing transition report before it’s sent to the provincial government.
“I’m going to rule that out of order,” said McCallum after Councillor Steven Pettigrew read his notice of motion regarding Surrey’s plan to pull out of the RCMP and move to set up a municipal force.
Pettigrew’s motion stated the public should not only be able to see the plan, once it’s completed, but also provide input prior to it being forwarded to the province.
McCallum said council chambers was the “wrong venue” for such a motion and said matters regarding policing should be raised during a Public Safety Committee meeting.
“That is under the procedure part of this council, and for your information, all previous ones,” McCallum said. “You’re free to bring it up at the Public Safety Committee meeting which is the proper venue to do that.”
“I’m ruling it out of order, there’s no discussion.”
Pettigrew then challenged the mayor’s decision, which meant his council colleagues voted on the matter.
The majority sided with the mayor (Councillors Doug Elford, Mandeep Nagra, Laurie Guerra and Alison Patton) and Pettigrew’s challenge failed.
On Tuesday, Pettigrew told the Now-Leader it’s “all up in the air right now” and that he intends to raise the motion again at the next Public Safety Committee meeting, set for May 6.
“I wanted to really stress to anybody that was listening and to the public and to the province that it’s critically important to have public consultation,” he noted.
“This is one of the biggest decisions our city is going to make and we need to hear from the people, we need to hear from the business community, the community groups. We need to hear as a council what the people think.”
How does he feel his motion will be received the second time around at the upcoming meeting?
“(McCallum), as chair has the right to deny my motion and not let me speak. We’ll see if that happens.”
Just minutes after taking the Oath of Office last November, McCallum and the new Surrey council unanimously passed a motion to pull out of the RCMP contract and “immediately create a Surrey Police Department.”
While McCallum has vowed the force will be up and running in two years, at least three councillors (Linda Annis, Brenda Locke and Jack Hundial) have questioned that timeline.
All three have stated their continued support depends on whether the public is consulted on the policing transition plan.