The petition opposing the proposed RCMP detachment launched by a Pitt Meadows local, made it to the council chambers last month during a council meeting.
Petitioner Darlene Mercer, collected over 466 signatures to stop the city from seeking re-zoning of the Park Land at Harris Rd. Park, and from putting in place a new RCMP detachment separate from Maple Ridge.
“As you begin budget considerations, I bring before you concerns that I, and hundreds of taxpayers in Pitt Meadows are turning our attention to,” Mercer said during the council meeting held on Sept. 28.
She highlighted that the cost on the new firehall has gone from $12 million to $15 million, there would be additional costs for maintaining dikes in the future and costs that would be incurred for the ownership and insurance of the overpass at Kennedy Road through the MOU with CP.
“Why does the city insist on accruing the largest single infrastructure debt in our history,” said Mercer, pointing to the de-integration from the Maple Ridge RCMP and the building of a new autonomous detachment in Pitt Meadows.
“Please step back and move this to a referendum at the 2022 municipal elections.”
To this, Mayor Bill Dingwall responded saying that while there was no question in Mercer’s comments, he would still address some of the issues she raised.
“For probably four or five months, we have made it crystal clear [about the ownership and insurance of the overpass at Kennedy Road] and so has our communications department that it is paused. It doesn’t mean that we are taking ownership of that, it doesn’t mean that it will be built. It’s paused with a focus on Harris Road. I don’t know why people still continue to talk about it. If it ever, ever makes it back on the table, then we can answer questions on that,” he said.
“I will say it again, it is paused.”
He also indicated that while maintaining and restoring dikes would incur a huge cost, the city would look towards federal funding for this, as is done by several other cities in the Lower Mainland.
He then focused on the petition and said, “That ship has sailed, until we get provincial approval. This council had a 7-0 vote that means all of us have put our minds to that issue over two-and-a-half years.”
He also refuted Mercer’s claims that the process for approval for the detachment was un-democratic and was slipped during the COVID-frenzy.
“It is anything but being slipped in under the COVID-cover. We have held how many council meetings, meetings, EPC meetings, and we have the support of our sister city Maple Ridge, Katzie First Nation, the RCMP, and our complete council and right now, those decisions have been made by the council. We have the confidence of our community.”
The council is now awaiting a decision from the provincial government over the detachment, while in the meantime, Mercer will continue to collect signatures for her petition.
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