A protest group in Surrey said police spending in the city came at the expense of housing and community programs.
Chanting "houses are not police, houses are not police," a group called Anti-Police Power Surrey stopped traffic in Surrey Saturday as they marched along 104 Avenue to the town hall and then to the RCMP detachment on King George Boulevard in Whalley.
Dave Diewert, a longtime activist, said the group was formed shortly after the new Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was elected on a pledge to replace the city of RCMP with city police.
"The police will never resolve the root causes of social tensions that we call crime," he said.
McCallum's campaign resonates with voters because the city wrestles with drugs and gang violence.
Kwantlen Criminology Professor Polytechnic Jeff Shantz said that McCallum's message justified increasing spending by playing amid fears of gang violence.
"The police consume too much of our social and public resources," he said. "We need those resources in our community to defend ourselves."
Surrey is the largest RCMP detachment in the country with more than 1,000 officers, support staff and volunteers according to the RCMP website.
The federal government took 10 percent of the Surreal police budget but the city will lose the funds when cutting off relations with the RCMP.
The Surrey police budget will grow to one hundred seventy million dollars next year.
McCallum has promised to have new powers in place by two years, but experts doubt the timeline.
Meanwhile Anti-Police Power Surrey promised to continue to push for money to be diverted from the police budget to pay for community centers and youth programs.
Its members say that these resources will better address the root causes of crime and violence in Surrey rather than improve the police.
With files from Jon Hernandez