Justice Minister and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer shakes hands with an RCMP officer in Leduc County.
The Alberta government announced an injection of almost $300 million to fund more than 500 RCMP positions in rural communities to fight rural crime on Wednesday and the M.D. of Bonnyville’s money will support it.
Rural municipalities with less than 5,000 residents will now have to pay a portion of policing costs as the province changed the policing formula, which means the M.D. of Bonnyville must set aside ten per cent of the money ($400,000) in the 2020 budget.
That cost will increase to as much as $1.2 million by 2023 when the formula graduates to 30 per cent of the total.
Reeve Greg Sawchuk said it can be a useful investment, but added that police officers aren’t the sole issue when it comes to combating rural crime.
“In the end, if they come through with all the RCMP that are expected to be added, it’s going to be a great force to be reckoned with,” he said.
“We know that crime is a bigger problem than just the RCMP though, so they seem to be working on that other side, but of course we have to work with the federal government in regards to the actual sentencing.”
The M.D. spent $1.3 million earlier this year to enhance policing in the Lakeland with three RCMP members and support staff, and those costs are considered in this new fee.
The province’s $286 million with cost-sharing from rural municipalities runs over a five-year commitment.
Alberta pays 70 per cent of policing costs and the federal government covers the remaining 30 per cent.
The province is also creating a new Alberta Police Advisory Board, where municipal leadership will have a seat at the table, working in collaboration with law enforcement to ensure local needs are heard and implemented, the province said in a press release.
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer called the decision the largest investment in rural policing since the March West and delivering on their promise to enhance public safety.