Surrey is regaining its reputation as the Wild West in B.C. municipal politics.
For the third time in three months, a councillor has quit the Safe Surrey Coalition.
The political party was put together by Mayor Doug McCallum last year in advance of last year's municipal election, when it won all but one of the seats on council.
This morning, Coun. Jack Hundial said in a statement that the mayor's plan to replace the RCMP with a municipal force will make the city "less safe".
According to Hundial, a former cop, Surrey would end up with fewer cops at a higher cost.
"Since elected, I have had only one 30-minute meeting with the mayor on public safety where he stated that he was not interested in my input," Hundial alleged.
Moreover, Hundial said that Surrey can have its own local police board while retaining the RCMP. This is because of provisions that were added to the RCMP service-level agreement.
"I believe my credibility as a career police officer, with most of my uniform years on the streets of Surrey, contributed to the SCC win last fall," Hundial declared. "I want to be absolutely clear that I do not support the mayor's current policing plan. It is rushed, not well thought out and as we hear increasingly each day, causing the community to be divided."
Last month, the SCC's top vote-getter among council candidates, Brenda Locke, quit the caucus. In May, former SCC councillor Steven Pettigrew quit caucus.
There are still four SCC members on council: Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Allison Patton, and Mandeep Nagra.
Elford, who gained the second-highest number of votes for council, was previously with the Surrey Community Alliance before bolting to McCallum's group before the election.
Linda Annis was elected to council as a member of Surrey First.
McCallum was the Surrey Electors Team mayor of Surrey from 1996 to 2005, but lost power after a member of his party, Dianne Watts quit caucus to become an independent.
In the 2005 election, Watts defeated McCallum by more than 10,000 votes.
The stage is now set for Locke, a political moderate and former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister, to possibly run and defeat McCallum in 2022, should McCallum choose to seek reelection.
McCallum is 75 years old, so there's always a possibility that he'll retire rather than go for a second term, which could keep him in office until past his 82nd birthday.
Surrey's reputation as a centre for wacky municipal politics was cemented during the 1960s and 1970s under two charismatic and colourful mayors—Bill Vander Zalm and Ed McKitka.
Vander Zalm was mayor from 1969 to 1975 before being elected to the legislature, where he gained fame for telling welfare recipients to pick up a shovel and for suing a cartoonist who depicted him plucking the wings of flies.
Vander Zalm's successor, McKitka, was jailed in the late 1970s after being convicted of breach of trust. After serving his prison term, McKitka was elected to council.
Vander Zalm escaped going to jail when he was acquitted of breach of trust in B.C. Supreme Court in 1992 after resigning as premier.