British Columbia

Surrey mayor responds to backlash over chaotic budget meeting

Councillors were not allowed to speak on budget items at Monday night's meeting. Mayor Doug McCallum said anyone who interrupted the meeting would be escorted out by security. 

Councillors were not allowed to speak on budget items at Monday's meeting

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said people at Monday night's council meeting who were rallying in support of the RCMP were 'abusive' and 'aggressive.' (Ben Nelms/CBC)

After a chaotic budget meeting at Surrey City Hall Monday night, Mayor Doug McCallum is responding to criticism from fellow and former council members.

During the meeting, McCallum said councillors were not allowed to speak on budget items because of "safety issues" and anyone who interrupted the meeting would be escorted out by security. 

The lack of discussion over the budget drew sharp criticism from Coun. Brenda Locke, who said it wasn't a "good sign of democracy," and from Coun. Jack Hundial, who wants the province to investigate McCallum's actions. 

But McCallum told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko on Tuesday he thought it was best to take a recess to allow the crowd to calm down. He called the council meeting "unsettling" and said people rallying to keep the RCMP were "abusive" and "aggressive."

Surrey was given the go-ahead by the province in August to transition from being an RCMP jurisdiction to having its own municipal police force.

"[RCMP supporters] call us names that I can't even say on the radio. They interrupt us at all of these events. They have no respect for wanting to listen," McCallum said in an interview over the phone.

He also said as a former councillor, Mike Starchuk shouldn't have been egging on the crowd during the meeting. 

Starchuck said Monday night that the mayor's decision to silence the council meeting shows he's lost control. But McCallum refutes that.

"We have solid control of council with our votes and we have complete control of our council chambers," he said. 

McCallum also called Coun. Hundial's claim that the budget issues are causing a racial division in Surrey "completely false."

"Our city is like a fabric and it's got threads running through it from all different parts of the world. Our fabric's very, very strong right now and we work with all of our cultures," he said.

Surrey's budget was formally approved Monday night following a 5-4 vote.

Click the link below to listen to the full interview:

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