By Cole Parkinson
The Municipal District of Taber is joining alongside several other Alberta municipalities in raising concerns around the province’s discussions of a provincial police force.
After a southern Alberta Mayors and Reeves meeting earlier this month, Reeve Merrill Harris shared the reception of the provincial police model at council’s regular meeting March 9.
“We had a presentation on the proposed changes to policing. That being the Alberta Provincial Police replacing the RCMP,” stated Harris.
“I think before we head down a road we don’t know where we’re going with it, a look at all the different levels of law enforcement we have in the province and the rationale for having all those different departments would serve us (well). I just think we’re going a little too fast here.”
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass had forwarded a letter earlier in the month in an attempt to highlight their concerns with the plan.
“We do not understand why the province would forge ahead with this process,” reads the letter signed by Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter. “The staggering cost to implement an initiative of this nature should be enough of a deterrent to even consider proceeding.”
“Municipalities across this province are struggling to determine how they will absorb the costs for the existing Police Funding Model and should not be expected to consider facing additional expenses for an initiative that is unwanted and appears to have no ceiling, where potential costs are concerned.”
Coun. Tamara Miyanaga also pointed to the fact there has been no concrete facts about short or long-term financial cost implications for police level of service across the province.
“I just really think there is a financial implication and is it just because we want our autonomy or is it because we think we can provide a better policing service? And that’s my biggest concern,” she added.
Another point highlighted was the fact there were already multiple levels of policing across the province.
“I’ve been saying this all along ever since they brought the provincial police model. Ever since this government was elected, they’ve brought this up as one of their plans. The problem is we have so many different levels of law enforcement that continue to do the same thing and duplicating services is very expensive. I think in policing, that’s what we continue to do. I can’t see how that can be cost-effective,” said Coun. John Turcato.
With the Alberta deficit continuing to grow, Turcato was adamant the old days of spending in Alberta were over.
“There was a time in Alberta where you could do things like that and get away with it because there was enough money coming in. That’s not the case now. I think instead of spending the money on reviewing how we’re going to replace the RCMP with a provincial police force, we should be spending that money to review the entire policing system and law enforcement system to see how we can make it better suited for Alberta. Not necessarily changing our highest level of policing to a different model, that might not even fit — but there has to be a better way of doing this,” he said.
“I know there is, it’s just a lot of work to review all of that. You (have) multiple levels of law enforcement in this province that needs to work together and I don’t know if they are doing that.”
Turcato was also critical of discussing further changes to policing in the province and the continuing rural crime issue.
“It seems like all of them are chasing the easy dollar of the parking ticket, the speeding ticket and the seatbelt ticket. All levels of law enforcement seem to be happy to do that, but yet we have rural crime running rampant — while there are four people chasing you down because you’re 10 over the speed limit. I just don’t think that’s a good way of spending our money.”
Before making any motion, council elected to bring the topic back to a future meeting with additional information.