A last-minute change to an opportunity in South Surrey for residents to learn more about plans to transition the city to a municipal police force has left at least one senior fuming.
Pat Anderson said she only learned of the pop-up kiosk’s location shift to Guildford from Ocean Park Library when she showed up at the library Monday afternoon.
“I went and lots of other people went and there was a sign… ‘this venue is now changed to Guildford,’” Anderson said Wednesday.
“Guildford is nowhere near Ocean Park. A lot of us don’t drive. I was so irate.”
Peace Arch News shared the plan for the local pop-up kiosk in last Friday’s paper (June 14), noting a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. schedule.
It was touted as among smaller events planned for residents “to learn more about the benefits of this change and share your ideas for the future Surrey Police.”
Council, at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018 served notice to the provincial and federal governments that Surrey is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed here since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force.
Following a review by Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, the 189-page Surrey Policing Transition Report was released to the public early this month. It details plans to “go live” on April 1, 2021, and a cost of $192.5 million that year.
Start-up costs proposed between now and then, according to the report, are estimated at $39.2 million, and include $11.8 million on recruiting and equipment, $7.6 million on IT systems and facilities, $400,000 for vehicle transition and $19.4 million for a “phased staff transition.”
The city began hosting “public engagement” opportunities on the transition in May, starting in Cloverdale.
The first session was described as disappointing by some attendees, who criticized information shared as nothing more than what was on the city’s website at the time.
Anderson said she was not only disappointed by the venue change, but also with the lack of manners around how it was done. There was no apology on the sign, and when she called city hall to complain, “there was nobody to talk to, nobody to voice my opinion,” she said.
“You cannot change a venue from Ocean Park to Guildford the same day. I don’t drive. How was I going to get there? This was so easy. I live close by.”
In an email to PAN shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday, GM of Policing Transition Terry Waterhouse said the kiosk event was shifted to Guildford “as that area had significantly fewer engagement opportunities.”
“In order to hold as many consultation sessions across the city as feasible prior to June 23rd the City altered the schedule to allow fair coverage in every town centre,” Waterhouse writes.
“The City regrets any inconvenience for people who tried to attend the event scheduled for the Library.”
Waterhouse adds that of 23 events on the consultation schedule, three were held in South Surrey; at Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre on May 24, in Crescent Beach on June 12 and the South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre on June 15.
Regarding the transition plan, Anderson said she is not in favour.
“I want them to keep the RCMP. I think this is just going to cost a lot of money,” she said.
“There’s more important things to spend money on, and it certainly isn’t to put a canal all the way through Surrey,” she added, referencing comments made by Mayor Doug McCallum last week at a panel on the future of city centre.
McCallum suggested at the BIA event that a “wandering canal” could be built along one of the city’s “less busy” streets.
According to the city’s website, no further policing-transition consultation sessions have been planned for South Surrey. However, there are two more this month in other neighbourhoods: 3-6 p.m. June 21 (Friday) at the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, 13458 107A Ave., followed by a June 23 pop-up kiosk, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara at 7050 120 St. Waterhouse notes an online survey and consultation materials are also on the surreypolice.ca website.