B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond signs the new RCMP policing contract with federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

Deal brings new era for cities with RCMP

Contract promises better cost control, accountability



Federal and provincial ministers signed a new 20-year RCMP contract today, ushering in what B.C. cities hope will be a new relationship with the Mounties and much better control over spiraling police costs.

City councils, which got their first look at the full text last week, have until the end of April to ratify the agreement themselves.

Any city that doesn’t like it can terminate their RCMP service and form a municipal police force or partner with an existing one.

Cities will also get a two-year opt out option going forward and a review of the contract is promised every five years, allowing it to be re-opened.

“We are creating far more transparency and accountability in policing,” B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond said at a signing ceremony with federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews at the Surrey detachment, the country’s largest.

“For the first time we will have the ability to question costs, to look at breakdowns of costs, to say do we really need to have those kinds of things take place in British Columbia.”

Toews said it’s also in Ottawa’s interest to rein in costs.
Officials say the deal finally puts cities in better position to control costs and plan for them, rather than simply paying whatever bills are sent to them.

“This is a major shift from what we had before,” said Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, the civic observer in the talks.

Many cities have seen their RCMP costs – usually the biggest item in a municipal budget – climb six to seven per cent each year.

That’s not as severe as some unionized municipal forces, where costs have climbed by up to 14 per cent a year in some cases.
But municipalities have a wary eye on whether Mounties form a union, a scenario that would sharply drive up costs.

At the heart of the deal is a new B.C. local government contract management committee with 10 reps from cities who are promised much more hands-on control of spending changes, instead of just an advisory role.

It’s still unclear, however, whether cities can ultimately refuse to pay costs they object to – Fassbender said the hope is RCMP decisions will be shaped by civic input well before that point.

They’ll also be privy to the RCMP’s five-year financial plans so cities can better prepare for cost changes.

Previously, cities had no say on national programs, they were given only a one-year planning horizon on costs, and had no ability to review programs, detachment administration levels or challenge service delivery methods.

Improvements in the deal include an agreement that Ottawa will cover 30 per cent of the costs of integrated policing teams such as the gang task force and IHIT, up from 10 per cent now.
No change was made in the overall cost-sharing formula, which makes large cities over 15,000 population pay 90 per cent of costs, while smaller cities shoulder 70 per cent.

That works out to about $468 million per year for large cities, who host nearly 3,000 officers, while smaller cities pay about $54 million.
The estimated increase for 2012/13 is around 0.7 per cent or $2.35 million for larger cities and 1.7 per cent or $5.7 million for the province, although Victoria expects its share may tick higher in future years.

B.C. last fall threatened to withdraw from the RCMP and start its own provincial force after the federal government issued an ultimatum to sign the contract or lose the Mounties in 2014.

SFU criminologist Rob Gordon said Bond’s claim B.C. was pursuing a “plan B” was likely nothing but “sabre-rattling.”

But he contends the province should still look at creating regional police forces for Metro Vancouver and Greater Victoria to end a “patchwork” of RCMP and municipal police jurisdictions.

“Those are natural areas for amalgamation of services and the creation of cost-effective policing,” Gordon said.

Bond said B.C. continues to pursue more integrated services, but does not rule out regionalization.
”We’re happy to have a discussion about that,” she said. “But it has to be led by locally elected officials. There’s a divided view about how that should be approached.”

Officials also noted B.C. is launching a new independent investigation office, which promises better civilian oversight of RCMP officers involved in serious incidents.

Just Posted

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

Life rings, signs to improve safety on Harrison waterfront

Harrison council approved $125,000 in aquatic safety projects for the beach

PHOTOS: Harrison students take on the Bunny Run

Harrison Hot Springs Elementary students dressed up for the Easter event

No more mobile vendors on Harrison beach

The approval of an updated business licence bylaw means Nolan Irwin is without a cart

Chilliwack PEO: ‘We who are sisters’

International oganization celebrating 150 years of service

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

VIDEO: Giants draw first blood in Western Conference championships

In Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between Vancouver and Spokane, the G-Men emerged triumphant

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, multiple people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read