The M.D. of Bonnyville is prioritizing crime prevention in their project submission to the province using the ID349 regional committee money.
The proposal at last Wednesday’s council meeting outlines a plan to bring three more RCMP officers to the area and an additional support staff member.
It would cost just under $500,000 a year for a three year term.
The regional committee made up of Bonnyville, Cold Lake, M.D. of Bonnyville, Glendon, Elizabeth Metis Settlement, and Fishing Lake Metis Settlement, had an in camera meeting late last year to determine a project that would benefit the entire area, but they could not reach consensus because the M.D. did not vote in favour of other proposals, said Reeve Greg Sawchuk.
“What the Minister wanted was truly regional projects. We threw it out on the middle of the table: what does this group all agree on that we need as a region, and it came back as crime prevention,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk.
“It’s still a big problem out there. We hashed it out a bit, we called in the RCMP, using our own peace officers as well, we had all the people back at the table, we had the Settlements, Cold Lake, Glendon, Bonnyville and ourselves, we sat with RCMP from Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Elk Point and Edmonton and out of that we came up with a few proposals that were put forward by the RCMP,” he said.
There is a $6 million pot of money attached to the chosen project, which will be decided by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Shaye Anderson in the coming months.
“Each of the municipalities and the settlements are putting in their proposals and it will be up to the Minister to decide. Hopefully he thinks ours is good one,” said Sawchuk.
Sawchuk added that he believes a decision will be made sooner rather than later because of the upcoming provincial election in the spring.
A concern brought forward during the M.D. council meeting was, if there is already a shortage of RCMP officers in the area, will this project still be worthwhile. It’s an issue that Sawchuk doesn’t take lightly, but is optimistic about.
“There have been RCMP staffing issues obviously…you don’t start paying for the positions until they arrive. But the RCMP have said their recruiting is moving along and they’re starting to pump through their continuous courses, so they said they would be able to put those people forward in the future. Now this make take six months or longer,” he said.
One of the ideas also brought forward to council was applying a hub policing model similar to the one in Prince Albert.
It would be a multi-agency approoach to combating crime that would include police, corrections, child services, health services, education, family devleopment, addictions, mental health and criminology practiitioners.
While the M.D. council was generally in favour of the model, seeing the similarities between Saskatchewan and Northern Alberta, they voted for the additional RCMP staff instead, leaving this option on the table in the future.
Previously, there was a push by the M.D. of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake to make these regional ID349 discussions open to the public, but right now there is no update.