The BC Liberals have reiterated their campaign promise to pause Surrey’s transition from RCMP to a municipal police force, vowing to allow voters in Surrey to have a referendum on the issue.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said the issue of policing has come up repeatedly while campaigning in Surrey.
"We have been knocking on doors all over Surrey," Wilkinson said. "They're very worried about the cost of this new police force."
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, whose key campaign promise in 2018 was transitioning to a municipal police force, declined an interview on Monday, referring CTV News to a statement he issued Sunday, which characterized the policing transition as a "done deal."
"I am appalled that the BC Liberal Leader has stooped to this level of desperation in an effort to garner votes," McCallum said in his statement.
"Surrey city council acted in accordance with the law when we unanimously voted to transition to a municipal police service. For the BC Liberals to interfere in the unanimous decision of an elected city council should be a concern to all municipal governments in our province."
On Sunday, NDP candidate Mike Farnworth called Wilkinson’s campaign promise "misguided" and "desperate."
The BC Liberals have purchased ads on Facebook, appearing to target Surrey residents. They say, in part, "The NDP have bungled the Surrey policing transition from the start."
With nine seats up for grabs, Surrey is a key battleground in the upcoming election.
Surrey Coun. Linda Annis echoed Wilkinson’s sentiments Monday.
"We need to get the facts on the table and then allow residents to make a decision," she said.
The new board of the Surrey Police Service held its first meeting in August, where concerns were raised about how much the new force would cost.
According to the city of Surrey, the projected operating costs of policing in 2021 were estimated at $189.5 million, with one-time capital costs of $42.2 million over three years to fund infrastructure such as fleet vehicles and equipment.
McCallum, who also serves as the board’s chair, has indicated he wants the force to be operational by April 1.