A ribbon cutting on Nov. 26 in front of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, for the new RCMP detachment in Pitt Meadows. (Priyanka KetKar/The News)

A ribbon cutting on Nov. 26 in front of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, for the new RCMP detachment in Pitt Meadows. (Priyanka KetKar/The News)

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows’ autonomous RCMP detachment gets provincial nod

First of its kind de-integration in B.C.

The Province of B.C. has granted approval for the City of Pitt Meadows to establish an autonomous RCMP detachment.

During a media conference held on Nov. 26 in front of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery at 12492 Harris Road, the city officials made the announcement of the detachment approval.

Mayor Bill Dingwall, who has been a staunch supporter of the project said, “An autonomous RCMP detachment will result in a significantly higher number of local RCMP directly serving our community and prioritizing our needs. Enhancing public safety is the single most important legacy that this Council has been striving to achieve for our community. This favourable decision by the Province of B.C. means our residents will have enhanced police visibility, improved public safety, a faster police response and the ability to achieve a policing model tailored for Pitt Meadows.”

The art gallery, where the media conference took place, is also the site where the new RCMP detachment will be coming.

“This is an exciting and historic time for our community. The site of the new detachment is of historic significance given it was the site of BC Police operations dating back to 1914,” he added.

One Staff Sergeant Commander and an additional 22 members will always be based in Pitt Meadows, increasing the number of officers per shift from two to five. Additionally, nine support positions will directly report to the city. The new detachment will also continue to have full access to all the Lower Mainland District Units.

The proposal for a separate RCMP detachment first came up in June 2019, after a review of the existing policing structure was undertaken. Following this, the city engaged in discussions with the stakeholders, held an online survey, as well as an Alternative Approval Process that resulted in 1.4 percent of the community opposed to the removal of a 10-metre parcel of parkland, allowing the new detachment in this location.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows Mayor raises ‘separate RCMP detachment issue’ at UBCM

Throughout the process, the city also sought and received support from the city of Maple Ridge, the Katzie First Nation and the RCMP.

Katzie First Nation chief, Grace George, said in a press release issued by the city that the majority of dealings that the Nation does are with Pitt Meadows.

“Our Nation has land that stretches across many communities including Maple Ridge, however our community living parcels are within Langley, Surrey (Barnston Island), and Pitt Meadows. Our Council believes that a detachment in Pitt Meadows will enhance public safety for our community and we are grateful for our continued partnership,” she said.

City of Maple Ridge mayor, Mike Morden extended his support to the detachment, and said, “Maple Ridge Council fully supports the City of Pitt Meadows with the establishment of their own RCMP Detachment. Communities need to set and determine service priorities and levels required to meet the unique needs of the community in order to deliver excellence in public safety.”

This de-integration is the first of its kind in British Columbia and Ridge Meadows RCMP superintendent Wendy Mehat assured everyone that it wouldn’t hamper the service provided by the RCMP to either of the cities.

“I want to assure residents that there will be no change in the level of service delivery for Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows. Our priority is and will remain public safety throughout every aspect of this de-integration plan,” she said.

Apart from quality of service, another concern the residents of Pitt Meadows had was taxation and chief administrative officer Mark Roberts confirmed that property taxes wouldn’t be affected by this decision.

“The City will achieve a new autonomous detachment, including a new police services building, without a property tax increase while at the same time attaining a superior service delivery model and higher return-on-investment,” he said. “Currently, the City pays $250,000 per year for a building we do not own, as well as pays an additional $45,000 administrative fee to the City of Maple Ridge. This new model enables us to fully realize officer and staff support and financial efficiencies that reflect significantly better service delivery goals.”

City staff will immediately begin the transition that is expected to span over the next few years. More information will be shared when it becomes available. To find out more visit pittmeadows.ca/rcmp.

ALSO READ: Partial petition opposing the proposed Pitt Meadows RCMP detachment reaches council chambers

Have a story tip? Email: priyanka.ketkar@mapleridgenews.com

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