A potential idea to spread the ever increasing cost of RCMP service for rural areas will reportedly not provide more coverage or added officers at detachments that serve rural regions. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Rural municipalities bracing for possible RCMP cost hike

If proposal from province goes through, it could cost Ponoka County big time

An online presentation regarding proposed changes to how expenses for Alberta’s provincial RCMP contract are distributed between municipalities could see Ponoka and other rural communities hit hard.

CAO Charlie Cutforth explained the suggested changes heard via a provincial government webinar on Sept. 5 to council at their meeting on Sept. 10. The proposal would counties and urban municipalities with less than 5,000 population begin to pay for policing services that they currently are not responsible for.

“The bottom line (expense) for the county is nearly $393,000, based on our equalized assessment,” he stated.

“This is not based on demand for service, but seems they looked around and thought of who would be available to pay.

“It also doesn’t change the level of service or increase the number of members. It’s purely a matter of the rurals kindly start paying.”

That amount was calculated by taking 30 per cent of the county’s equalized assessment, estimated at $3.1 billion.

“There are many that are higher than us and a lot considerably less,” said Cutforth, who added this was the cost when using the county’s population of 9,806.

Currently, Ponoka County is one of the few rural municipalities that put up funds to help with enhanced RCMP policing positions — paying a portion of the salaries for two enhanced positions, a school resource officer and a general investigation officer.

Coun. Mark Matejka asked if the proposal would change anything for Ponoka, but was amazed that is seems to be just another form of taxing municipalities.

Cutforth added this downloading of costs on municipalities might be something the county will have to get used to.

“It won’t change any of the service levels at Ponoka or Rimbey or Bashaw. However, this will mean Rimbey will be hit with added policing costs,” added Cutforth.

“Currently, our cost is $200,000 for the two enhanced positions and if this goes through, it could mean an increase of $200,000 over our current budget.”

Reeve Paul McLauchlin mentioned what was interesting about this proposal, from what he has heard through discussions at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), is that the organization which represents urban municipalities — like Rimbey and Ponoka — has been pushing this proposal.

“But to the small town, it’s become a huge wedge because it hits them on both sides. I believe this is like a trial balloon, but it will turn into something,” he said, adding the proposal is likely tied to the government attempting to hit the $600 million in annual savings that was announced in the finance panel’s report released this month.

As this is just the first proposal, there has been plenty of push-back from many rural municipalities and small towns. However, Cutforth believes it won’t be too long before this comes to pass.

“The government seems very committed to making this happen. It’s about making the costs of policing more fair,” he stated.

“Though, the thing that bothers us and one that Wetaskiwin put forward as a very good question — What about municipalities that have a higher rate of crime statistics because of their proximity to reserves?”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province commits long term to 4-H in Alberta

10-year funding commitment will sustain re-structured 4-H organization

STARS praises Ponoka County as leader in province

Annual update from STARS shows big progress on helicopter campaign

Short bench for tournament host Queens

Rebuiling year sees club wind up seventh

Town selling the airport to Ponoka Flying Club

Agreement is for 25 years with option to buy back

RCMP on hunt for man who has skipped court

Public urged to call 911 if they spot him

VIDEO: Province’s top court sides with Alberta on federal carbon tax

Today’s decision is the first to side with a province against the federal government

Father and two children, from Southern Alberta, killed in fatal crash in B.C.

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Two goals by Ben King pushes Rebels over Tri-city

7-5 game a high-scoring, runaway according to Rebels forward Chris Douglas

Most Read