Explainer: The City of Surrey’s 2022 budget

The plan changes how Surrey residents will live over the next five years

Surrey City Hall. (file photo)

Surrey City Hall. (file photo)

The Surrey City Council approved the city’s five-year financial plan during a special council meeting on Dec. 24. The $1.5 billion budget will be allocated to numerous projects like police training and transition and development of new and existing facilities.

In a media statement released Dec. 22, Surrey mayor Doug McCallum said the property tax rate increase was maintained at 2.9 per cent for the fourth consecutive year, “one of the lowest in Metro Vancouver,” to ensure that families would not “be presented with an unexpected tax burden” during an ongoing uncertainty with COVID-19.

Budgeting for amenities and services is highlighted as a major plan for a “post-pandemic future” including nine new projects. These include a new police training facility for the Surrey Police Service for $4 million, a bus layover facility at the previous North Surrey Recreation Centre site for $10.2 million, the relocation of the Fleetwood Fire Hall No. 6 for $14.25 million to make way for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, and other recreational developments. 

The budget also set aside almost $194.8 million for police-related services, which includes the funding of new salary increases for RCMP members and capital and transition requirements of the city’s police department from RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

The National Police Federation (NPF) expressed their concern with the announcement in a news release, pointing out the additional new and unaccounted costs despite the aligned 2021 budget forecasts. 

“Basic math tells us that the real cost of the Surrey Police transition is moving upwards of $81.1M, representing a four-fold increase in just three years,” said Brian Sauvé, president of the NPF.  He added there should be more transparency and time for a budget review on a big decision, and that “Surrey residents deserve better.” 

Councillors Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial, Linda Annis, and Steven Pettigrew shared their disappointment in the “rushed” budget timeline which was publicly released Dec. 17 without much time for residents and businesses to review the plan between the budget’s release and the public hearing. 

“In the history of our city we have never approved anything that big so quickly, with so little due diligence, no real community consultation, or even a cursory review. It’s absolutely the wrong way to run a city our size and a budget this big,” said Annis, in an emailed statement to Vancouver Sun. 

Locke also said that it reflected how “chaotic” the current council has run the city and that the passing of the 2022 budget was “extraordinarily disrespectful to the public,” given its short timeline. 

McCallum has defended the budget release, saying that it’s the best budget he’s seen in years at city hall.