Councillor turned mayoral candidate Bruce Hayne is questioning Mayor Linda Hepner after two of Surrey’s public safety committee meetings were cancelled. (File photos)

Hayne wants answers after cancellation of two Surrey public safety meetings

Mayoral candidate suspects move to spike meetings was politically motivated as election looms

Why hasn’t there been a public safety committee meeting in Surrey since June?

It’s a question being raised by former Surrey First member turned mayoral candidate Bruce Hayne after he says Mayor Linda Hepner cancelled the last two.

Hayne suspects it’s because the city’s top cop was expected to ask for a “significant” number of new police officers.

“We had the June meeting and the Officer in Charge (of the Surrey RCMP) said he was going to go away and speak with members and so on and do some more analysis, and would be coming back to us with a specific request for a specific number of additional officer,” he said.

After that, Hayne said the July meeting was cancelled.

Council took its break for August, then just last week the September meeting was pulled from the calendar, Hayne added.

“I can only assume that it was so as to not have those numbers public prior to the election,” said Hayne of the cancellations. “I can’t definitively say what the mayor’s reasons are for cancelling it. I think that’s going to be a source of discussion at Monday’s council meeting to find out. There wasn’t any explanation the event was just cancelled.”

See also: Surrey’s political hopefuls agree – change in RCMP policing model is needed

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Hayne said with the violence Surrey has see, elected officials — and the public — should know what the Surrey RCMP need in order to police the streets effectively.

“It costs us $155,000 a year per member to put them on the road,” he said of officers. “So what the request is, and at the end of the day how many might be budgeted for, gives an indication as elected officials of what the chief of police needs to make our streets safe. He hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to tell us what he needs to do the job we need him to do.”

Hepner sent the Now-Leader an emailed statement about her reason for the cancellations.

“I have no intention of imposing on our taxpayers a financial burden that is weeks away from a budget discussion of a new mayor and council,” she stated. “That is why I decided to not hold the meetings that would presuppose what a future council might do in terms of a broader policing study and potential increases to the city budget.”

Since 100 new officers were added to the Surrey RCMP in 2016, 34 more officers have been hired.

In all, Surrey RCMP has 835 officers.

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amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

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