Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke is once again trying to breathe life into Surrey’s stone-cold Public Safety Committee.
She presented a notice of motion at the Nov. 23 council meeting saying the committee should be “immediately re-instituted” as this second wave of the pandemic “has affected Surrey disproportionately.”
“The issues around public safety, housing, mental health and addictions are at a crisis in Surrey,” she told council. “This council has decided that it will go ahead with the police transition regardless of the pressures the pandemic has placed on an already strained police, first responders and frontline human resources in Surrey.”
Locke also noted Surrey businesses are “facing challenges” because of COVID-19 “both financially and ensuring safety protocols are met.”
The Public Safety Committee, she noted, was cancelled to make way for the police transition committee “that never did meet and was subsequently cancelled.”
Her motion will now be up for debate at a future council meeting.
In August of 2019 Locke called on Mayor Doug McCallum to re-instate the long-standing Public Safety Committee since the provincial government was overseeing the city’s transition from the RCMP to a made-in-Surrey police force but without success.
One month prior, McCallum had dissolved the Public Safety Committee, on which every council member sat, and replaced it with a Police Transition Advisory Committee comprised of himself and the four remaining Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford.
Excluded were Councillors Jack Hundial – who served with the Surrey RCMP for 25 years – Steven Pettigrew, Locke, and sole Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis, who also serves as the executive director of Crime Stoppers.
This past March, Councillor Linda Annis presented a notice of motion to have the committee brought back but McCallum ruled it out of order. Annis said at the time that the pandemic was one reason she tried to have it brought back.
“It was very, very disappointing,” that it wasn’t, Annis said at the time. “We’ve had this committee in place for more than 15 years until the mayor dissolved it in July of 2019 in favour of the police transition committee.”
The Police Transition Advisory Committee (IPTAC) had a proposed lifespan of three to six months and was tasked with supporting the city’s transition from the Surrey RCMP to the city’s own police force. That same month council approved Councillor Jack Hundial’s motion to dissolve the IPTAC committee.