M.D. of Bonnyville councillors discussed the police funding model in a meeting last week, and it appears that the M.D. will be taking a larger role in funding RCMP services within the area, including Cold Lake.
The M.D. is projected to spend around $4.3 million in funding RCMP services within the next five years as the province changed the way municipalities would pay for policing.
In a request written to Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer in December 2019, the M.D. asked for an enhanced police modifier, which would lessen their cost.
The minister responded that the province will absorb the cost of the GIS (geographical information systems) officer in Bonnyville and will remain in place and still perform the same duties.
“In the initial letter that we put into the minister was in regards to trying to get a bit of credit for some of the things that we’re doing, say a GIS officer’s position here in Bonnyville,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk on The Morning After.
“As it turns out we are going to get credit for that, in a way — that’s going to be transferred to the province and they’re going to pay for it directly.”
M.D. Peace Officers have been playing a more active role in performing police duties in recent years, and there’s been talk amongst councillors to push for more responsibility to the officers.
That would include the authority to carry firearms, and shift the organization into more of a municipal police force, something that has been done in other Alberta municipalities.
The M.D.’s costs will be phased in starting with 10 per cent of the cost in 2020 ($407,789), 15 per cent in 2021 ($612,122), 20 per cent in 2022 ($815,578) and 30 per cent in 2023 and 2024 — $1,224,244 each year.
“What’s still up in the air are the three positions for the [Lakeland] crime reduction unit, and for that we’re going to send in another letter, and try to press that one, because what it’s looking like right now is costs rising to around $1.1 million over the next few years,” said Sawchuk.
“Crime is still an issue for us out there, and we’re willing to help the province out on this one.”
The three new GIS positions in Cold Lake were not acknowledged in this formula, however, M.D. council directed administration to ask on the city’s open positions.