Mayors to mull new RCMP contract Friday

Holdout cities under pressure to sign or switch police

RCMP-policed cities will weigh whether to ratify a new 20-year contract with the Mounties later this week but it’s not yet clear if they will get the answers they seek.

Several cities have held off signing the new contract, citing confusion over the costs of a surprise pay increase for RCMP officers adopted last month as the new policing contract was unveiled.

A province-wide conference call with cities is slated for Thursday and Lower Mainland mayors with RCMP detachments meet Friday morning in Surrey to discuss the issues.

Cities were notified in May of 2011 that Ottawa expected to pass RCMP pay hikes of 1.5 per cent in each of the next three years.

But those increases ended up higher, at 1.75 per cent for 2012 retroactive to Jan. 1, 1.5 per cent in 2013 and two per cent in 2014 and cities are still waiting for detail on other elements of the compensation package that could drive the overall cost higher yet.

“What caught us off guard was the magnitude of the changes to the whole pay package,” said Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, who was the municipal rep in negotiations towards the new RCMP contract.

He said he’s still awaiting information from Ottawa, particularly on whether promised administrative savings will offset the higher-than-expected pay hikes.

“We still don’t have all of the facts in front of us.”

Several cities have said they are waiting for better answers before they will approve the new contract.

But if they don’t sign by the end of the month, Fassbender said holdout cities are effectively giving notice they will terminate the RCMP in two years and switch to a municipal force.

He said he’s urging other mayors to sign the contract because it will deliver much more accountability and give cities much greater say on spending decisions.

Richmond and North Vancouver District are among the cities that say the deadline is too soon for them to comply.

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