Pitt Meadows residents are backing council as it moves towards having its own RCMP detachment, Mayor Bill Dingwall said following an information meeting on the issue.
About 100 people showed up at the Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall on Tuesday to hear presentations about a policing review that recommends Pitt Meadows have its own RCMP office, separate from the Ridge Meadows detachment.
“It was not a bad turnout and what I take from that… our community, I believe, has trust in us, otherwise the place would have been 300, 400, to 500 people,” Dingwall said Wednesday.
“They trust in us that we’re doing the right thing, that we presented a full report online, [on] our website, and they’re not concerned. Otherwise, they would have come to that meeting.”
Council and staff laid out a full business case for a separate detachment based on a report by a consultant.
City of Pitt Meadows: Review of Policing Service Delivery recommends that the city form its own detachment. The report states it could be operated for about the same $5.7 million cost that Pitt Meadows is paying now for policing.
In addition to the public meeting, the city has an online feedback form where residents can also share their views.
Dingwall said that if many people had opposed the idea, it would have made council step back and question its communications.
“Once you read the report it will bring the vast majority of people to the same conclusion, that there’s a better model.”
He estimated a handful of people were opposed to the idea, while some people were asking questions that were answered in the report.
The review, by Blueline Vantage Consulting, concludes that an autonomous RCMP detachment in Pitt Meadows – while requiring some initial capital investment – “is the best option to address the key principles expressed by Pitt Meadows… while enhancing public safety and providing more direct accountability.”
The review notes that at present there’s no leader at Pitt Meadows’ community policing office to coordinate activities in Pitt Meadows. That leads Pitt Meadows council to feel their interests are being “overshadowed” by the draw for services in Maple Ridge.
A separate Pitt Meadows detachment would allow for a closer partnership between RCMP, council, and the community, said the review.
Resident Bill Wild said he’s worried about costs if city council decides to build a new detachment headquarters, instead of renovating the existing community policing office. No decision on that has been made.
Wild said that a new detachment building could see the draining of other savings accounts within the city.
“We’re going to need all the attributes for a police department and that’s costly,” Wild said Thursday.
But he recognized everything is still preliminary and no decisions have been made.
“Why so much all at once? The firehall, police, it’s a lot of money all at once and it’s putting us on the line,” Wild said.
The city is planning to build a new firehall on 122A Avenue, with costs potentially reaching $15 million.
Following consultation, council will look at a formal motion in March to create an independent detachment.
If council approves, the city must then seek permission from B.C. RCMP and the provincial government. Response from the RCMP could take up to two months, Dingwall explained.
The City of Pitt Meadows, in a news release also said that both the City of Maple Ridge council and Katzie, “by unanimous support… formally endorsed the aspirations of Pitt Meadows…”
Pitt Meadows met with Maple Ridge council on Feb. 4 and with Katzie First Nations council on Feb. 6.
Dingwall said council had to order a report and consult with other governments so that it had enough information before bringing the proposal to the public.
Now that a business case is in place, council is asking residents to “come and tell us if we’re on track,” Dingwall said.
He said as a former RCMP member his heart lies with first responders, adding that council’s highest priority is public health and safety.
“Our council believes that a detachment in Pitt Meadows will enhance public safety for our community while advancing our relationship even further,” Katzie Chief Grace George said in the release.
Katzie already has agreements with Pitt Meadows for water, sewer, and fire services, she noted.
“We recognize and respect the aspirations of our neighbour to shape a public safety model that delivers on their vision for Pitt Meadows… we are committed to supporting the final decisions made and continue to collaborate for the mutual benefit of our citizens as we have for over a century,” said Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden.
People can comment on the review online by going to: haveyoursaypittmeadows.ca.