Pitt Meadows’ Mayor, Bill Dingwall responded to the petition launched by a local opposing the proposed RCMP detachment, and stood by his, and the council’s decision over the project.
Earlier this week, a petition titled “Petition against removal of Parkland & formation of new RCMP detachment” was launched by Pitt Meadows resident Darlene Mercer. In response to the petition, Dingwall stood ground over the decision for having a separate RCMP detachment for Pitt Meadows.
“The decision has been made, we are now waiting for provincial approval for the de-integration with Maple Ridge. This decision has the support of Maple Ridge, Katzie First Nation, the RCMP and our citizens, as I have mentioned over the past two and a half years,” he said, adding that the decision was resource as well as service-driven.
“We are doing this so it will enhance public safety, we’d have more police presence in Pitt Meadows, and so we can have a customized policing service that meets our community needs,” he said.
Maple Ridge, being a big city, requires services to deal with crimes that Pitt Meadows doesn’t have, said Dingwall.
“If our officers have to travel back and forth to the detachment, we lose an hour, we lose services. If they are staying for coffee, they are staying for coffee in Maple Ridge and not in Pitt Meadows, so there are many reasons why bringing our own police detachment here is important,” he said, adding that the supporters of this decision all believed that the services will be much more enhanced as well as giving a good return on the dollars invested on the project.
“People that are opposed to this, are just turning a blind eye to this, just ignoring it.”
Earlier this year, the city used an alternate approval process to rezone 2,300 square meters of parkland at the site currently occupied by the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery and storage building. As per the alternative approval process, the proposal would fail if 10 per cent i.e. 1,431 of the city’s 14,311 eligible voters were against the rezoning. The city however received only 202 valid response forms.
“Out of the 14,000 eligible voters 1.4 per cent voted against it. A very small portion of our community said ‘no’. What that tells me and the rest of the council is that our community has confidence in us and the rest of the council, confidence in the decision we are making, and with that we believe we are on the right track here for what is the most important issue for our council this year…to deal with this, and enhance public safety for our citizens,” said Dingwall.
The Mayor also emphasized that at this point, the city council is not anticipating any tax increase to afford the new detachment.
“We have a financial plan that will get us there and allow us to move forward with the new detachment without having to increase taxes. Again, this has all been said publicly, and it is the right decision for our community and at this time there is no intention of re-consideration of our decision,” he stated.
Dingwall also reflected on his time in the RCMP and said that having spent a lifetime in the RCMP, and also being an officer in charge of the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows detachment, he understood policing extremely well and recognized what kind of services the community should be getting.
“We want to have community-based policing model in Pitt Meadows that will see our officers in uniforms sitting in the hockey rinks, out on the ball field, in coffee shops, getting to know our citizens. When you have officers posted in Pitt Meadows only for a few months until they are sent back to the big detachment, in four months, they don’t even get to understand issues in Pitt Meadows, let alone get to know our citizens. If you are stationed here fulltime, our citizens will get to know the police, our police will get to know the citizens, and they will really be part of our community,” concluded the Mayor.
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