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.

Just Posted

Jean-Pierre Antonio
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read