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

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident impressed with frontline workers when husband hurt

From police to health professionals, everyone who cared for injured senior deserves praise

Residents of Golf Lane say they are tired of their houses and vehicles being hit by golf balls from the nearby Maple Ridge Golf Course, and worry someone is going to get killed by a wayward drive. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge Golf Course neighbours say they need protection

City willing to explore solutions says director of parks

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association says Sparkle has been a huge hit with downtown businesses. (The News files)
Maple Ridge business to get free Earth Day window cleaning

Event put on by the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA and Christian Life Assembly

Allen, Mel, and Trevor Leung pose on the Whitecaps field in Vancouver. (Special to The News)
Community rallies to support Maple Ridge man suffering from paralysis, kidney issues

GoFundMe set up to help Allen Leung and his family during difficult times

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Most Read