No hammer yet for cities holding off on RCMP renewal

Deadline looms to sign contract or else replace Mounties.

No hammer yet for cities holding off on RCMP renewal

Several Lower Mainland cities now say they won’t meet an end-of-May deadline to sign a new 20-year contract with the RCMP because they still have too many unresolved questions.

And it’s not yet clear whether holdout cities that don’t sign soon will be forced to organize a municipal police alternative instead.

Councils in Burnaby, Richmond and North Vancouver are among those that have balked at ratifying the agreement reached earlier this spring.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond, who previously granted a one-month extension to the original deadline to sign or opt out of service with the Mounties, isn’t saying what will happen to cities that decide to wait for more answers.

“We have already extended the signing deadline from the end of April to the end of this month and at this time no decision has been made about a further extension,” Bond said in a statement.

She said the province has also been pressing Ottawa to clarify costs and other aspects of the contract and has been promised answers as soon as possible.

“We’re not signing it until we get some response,” City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto said, adding it would be “very foolish” for a municipality to sign something as vague and unclear as the new policing contract.

“I can’t assume what the province is going to do,” he said. “We have to do our due diligence and take the time we have to take to analyze this contract as well as look at what are the alternatives to RCMP policing.”

Mussatto and other mayors cited the capital and operating cost of the new $1.2 billion RCMP E Division headquarters being built in Surrey as a major concern.

“We were told originally we wouldn’t have to pay anything,” Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said. “Now we’re being told we’re going to have to pay something and the kinds of estimates we’re getting back are in the millions of dollars per year.”

Other issues include the 5.25 per cent pay increase for Mounties over three years that was more than cities had previously expected.

If Burnaby wants to seriously consider replacing the RCMP, Corrigan said, he expects the province to cooperate and ensure his city gets the time it needs to make a carefully considered transition.

“I don’t think there’s much of a risk that the provincial government will withdraw the police from Burnaby and leave us a lawless frontier town,” he added.

Bond and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender have argued the new contract will make the RCMP much more accountable to cities for their spending than in the past.

SFU criminology professor Rob Gordon expects the province to extend the deadline and the impasse to drag on unless cities get something closer to a guarantee limiting their exposure to higher costs.

Nor does he foresee any scenario where cities go unpoliced.

“A hard-nosed minister of justice would probably say ‘Either you guys sign or we are going to sign for you,'” Gordon said.

The province would, in effect, directly contract the RCMP to continue municipal policing in holdout cities and then find some mechanism to claw back the costs.

He said Bond could also amalgamate the RCMP holdout cities around Vancouver, perhaps along with nearby municipal forces, into a Metro Vancouver regional police force.

“It could be done very quickly, but it would be a mess,” Gordon said, adding it would be wiser to name an independent task force to investigate various options to restructure police forces in B.C.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cherry Hill Elementary. Kevin Mills photo.
Cherry Hill Elementary parents heartbroken, angry over mid-year principal swap

PAC president says she doesn’t understand why it’s happening in the middle of a pandemic

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Abbotsford mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby comes home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

This is the fifth school exposure in the district, and the third school. There were three exposures in a row at Hatzic Middle School, followed by this week’s cases. Kevin Mills Photo.
Two more COVID-19 exposures at Mission schools

There have been 5 exposures in 3 schools since Oct. 5

Architectural drawings of the building by JY Architecture. Screenshot from District of Mission council meeting on Nov. 16.
Six-storey, 86-unit development on 2nd Avenue approved by Mission councillors

Project one of the oldest on District of Mission’s books, staff report

Google Maps screenshot taken at 6:07 a.m.
TRAFFIC: Westbound dump-truck crash on Highway 1

Crash occurred around 6:45 a.m., west of 232nd Street in Langley

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

A new ‘soft reporting’ room is opening inside the Ann Davis Transition Society offices on Dec. 1, 2020 which is thought to be the first of its kind in B.C. (Ann Davis Transitional Society/ Facebook)
New ‘trauma-informed’ reporting room opening next week in Chilliwack

It’s a space for reporting domestic violence, sexual assault, or gender-based violence to police

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

The online poster for Joel Goddard, who left his Willoughby home Nov. 10, 2020, has been updated by his family and friends who received word that he’s been found.
Langley man missing since Nov. 10 found alive and safe in Abbotsford

Family of the Willoughby area man had been searching for days. Police find him at Abbotsford Airport

A UBC study recommends an multi-government investment of $381 million to protect 102 species at risk in the Fraser River estuary. (Photo supplied by Yuri Choufour)
102 Fraser River estuary species at risk of extinction, researchers warn

UBC team develops $381-million strategy to combat crisis, boost economy

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

Most Read