A ribbon cutting on Nov. 26, 2021, in front of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, for the new RCMP detachment in Pitt Meadows. (The News files)

A ribbon cutting on Nov. 26, 2021, in front of the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, for the new RCMP detachment in Pitt Meadows. (The News files)

LETTER: Pitt Meadows detachment will cost much more than forecast

Local resident continues crusading against the new facility for several reasons

Dear Editor,

Residents of Pitt Meadows who continue to oppose the tremendous expense of an autonomous detachment on parkland displacing our art gallery, green space and some sports facilities are disappointed with mayor and council literally planning to bulldoze ahead with this voter unsanctioned project by ‘moving’ PMAG (what exactly does this mean?) and doing site preparation in this election year (October) despite a known long transition trajectory.

The mayor continues to repeat the inaccurate metric of the 2021 AAP results, a favourite move of politicians. It was a ‘negative vote’ which could only have been valid had they mailed transparent information and voting packages to every resident, rather than fractionally clearing the ‘low bar’ that is the provincial regulation for notification (two newspaper ads). This inaccuracy is manifest by the over 500 signatures to date in the combined paper and ongoing E-Petition (Petitions.net) – statistically it is safe to say that you can at least double the number of signors.

Mayor Dingwall continues to say it is council’s legacy project. It would likely cost taxpayers $25- to $30-million from start to finish just for initiation (see new detachments in North Cowichan, Prince George, Moncton). The City is applying for a $20-million provincial loan on top of the close to $3-million already spent on three reports (Blueline and two by KMBR Architects).

The firehall for example, went from $12 million to $15 million.

I am sure over 10 per cent of residents would much rather see this ‘detachment’ spending put towards keeping our heads above water (ie Abbotsford) by raising our inadequate dykes (approximately $120 million overall – our share will be?).

Or maintain and upgrade current infrastructure – a 1950’s outdoor pool not open all summer, ancient park washrooms, indoor rink facilities in need of serious maintenance, and city hall and the works yard needing serious upgrade or replacement.

Instead of utilizing a 2013, $1.4 million upgraded CPO designed to house additional members the mayor ‘wants’ our first ever detachment. And according to what I could find in our archives, Harris Road was not the site of BC Police Operations dating back to 1914 (intimating some purpose built facility and ‘head office’). We hired a constable in 1914 who had an office in municipal hall on Harris, then a magistrate who no doubt had an office in the hall as he travelled a wide area in his governmental (non-police) duties. By 1967 Provincial Police were established with offices in Maple Ridge and two officers assigned to Pitt Meadows. In the 1950s the RCMP took over and their detachment was in Maple Ridge. There’s the historical site.

Our tax increase of 5.3 per cent is not among the lowest. Port Coquitlam (3.64 per cent), Coquitlam (3.43 per cent), Maple Ridge (4.4 per cent), all have lower increases coming despite the 24 per cent RCMP pay increase (retroactive).

Be prepared to see greater than five per cent increases here on out. This project is not a need borne out of reality nor fiscal responsibility – it is a legacy project. We should pay attention to the mayor’s offer to not vote for him (and council members) this coming election if we disagree with their policy on this (and other) matters. Responsible taxpayers ask the city to stop work and spending on this, and let voters decide this issue October 2022 with a referendum or at the very least, through results of the voting process.

Darlene Mercer, Pitt Meadows

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• READ MORE: New detachment gets provincial nod

• READ MORE: Pitt Meadows moving to get its own detachment was one of year’s top stories

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