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British Columbia

Lawyer says Surrey had pathway to keep RCMP but made ‘no effort’ to meet conditions

VANCOUVER — A lawyer for B.C.’s Public Safety Ministry says the City of Surrey was given a pathway to retain the RCMP as its police force, but “made no effort at all” to meet conditions to do so.

Trevor Bant told the B.C. Supreme Court that the city’s plan to abandon a transition to the Surrey Police Service didn’t consider the risk of losing municipal officers who didn’t want to join the RCMP. 

Bant was speaking on day four of the city’s legal challenge against the B.C. public safety minister’s order to continue the switch to the municipal force.

Bant says reports by both the province’s director of police services and Surrey city staff acknowledged that keeping the RCMP or transitioning to the municipal force were both feasible although “complex.”

He told Justice Kevin Loo that the RCMP had expected about half of Surrey Police Service officers to “patch over” and join the RCMP if the transition was halted, but the Surrey Police Union indicated up to 95 per cent of its officers wouldn’t join the RCMP after being terminated.

Surrey claims the province overstepped its authority by ordering the transition to continue, after a prolonged public dispute over the future of policing in the city and is seeking a judicial review.

Bant says a report by Surrey city staff report contained “candid concessions” about the risk of Surrey Police Service officers being released “en masse,” which would destabilize policing in the city and leave the RCMP detachment short-staffed and reliant on cadets with no policing experience. 

He says the report was likely never meant to be seen by the public safety minister, and it acknowledges that transitioning to a municipal force was “feasible.”

This was not in line with the city’s claims in court that the transition was “somehow impossible,” he said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 2, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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