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Wednesday , 30 September 2020
From left, Barry Morishita-Mayor of Brooks and AUMA President, and Caroline McAuley-Mayor of Vermilion.

Funding and police, hot topics at AUMA caucus in Vermilion

Vermilion receiving $500K for undetermined project.

Members of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association met Thursday to discuss policing and new stimulus funding.

The Summer Municipal Leaders’ Caucus was held at the Vermilion Regional Centre.

The Town of Vermilion has been allocated $493,000 in stimulus funding. CAO George Rogers is hopeful they can meet the conditions and said there will be a lot of hoops to jump through.

Stimulus funding is a $500 million pool across the province to be used for projects–designated by October 1, and completed by the end of 2021.

Projects have to be shovel-ready and cannot have been chosen for any other provincial funding.

Barry Morishita, Mayor of Brooks and AUMA President, said this money will go a long ways to helping local economies get going.

As part of providing safety in their home communities, Morishita said a significant portion of the day was spent discussing policing.

Currently there are RCMP or municipal forces, and they are waiting to hear more on the potential provincial police force.

Morishita said a framework will be released in September, determining whether a provincial force would utilize existing structures, and if or how current members would be retrained, etc.

“We’re not stuck on one model or another,” said Morishita.

He said there is a three year contract with RCMP so transition of assets, man power, and determining jurisdictions would take at least that long.

He wanted to find out about any discrepancies municipalities were facing between their RCMP contracts and the level of service they were receiving.

“RCMP detachments are required to do certain things in the communities they serve and we don’t think enough of that has happened, partly due to operational issues and partly a lack of understanding what is actually available,” said Morishita.

“An excuse isn’t good enough, we have to identify a road map on how we can fix it.”

There are 115 detachments in the province and there is significant variation among them.

He said that the Town of Vermilion is generally pretty satisfied with their overall service and reporting, but there is room for improvement. Over the years the Vermilion RCMP have had to mitigate back fills and vacancies, and they are serving a broad area. Morishita said that those are conditions, and don’t excuse them from providing good policing.

One of the challenges he regularly faces is helping people in provincial and governments understand that life is lived at the local level.

“At the root of a community are the things that make it a good place to live,” said Morishita.

He said that from the smallest community to the biggest city, that they all have to provide similar services. On top of services to draw in industries, they have to provide quality of life or those seeking will go elsewhere.

About Angela Mouly

Angela comes to Lakeland Connect Media from the Vermilion Voice newspaper where she spent the past four years reporting on community events. Her repertoire includes writing about history, politics, agriculture, sports, entertainment and art. She was the third place recipient of an AWNA General Excellence Award for “Best Front Page” during their 2016 Better Newspaper Competition. Angela has lived in rural Alberta all her life and in Vermilion for the past 15 years. She looks forward to continuing to serve and inform the Lakeland community by joining in people's many adventures and sharing their stories.