Having realized the hopes have not brought the desired results, Ponoka County leadership has decided to end the enhanced RCMP project
Nearly two years ago, Ponoka County took advantage of a program through the RCMP to provide an ‘enhanced’ officer position that was anticipated to bring more patrols, more coverage and better overall service by the RCMP in west side of the county as well as help out the local Rimbey detachment.
Unfortunately, as the contract is set to enter the final year of its three-year deal, county administration has not seen any of that occur, and recommended to county council during its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13 that council let the contract lapse and not renew it when it comes due at the end of 2016.
“We could realistically give the RCMP notice that we would terminate the contract early, but it would be administration’s recommendation to just not renew the contract when it concludes,” stated Ponoka County Chief Administrative Officer Charlie Cutforth during council’s regular meeting.
“There was no significant changes in the amount of patrols and other things, so it no longer makes sense to continue with the posting.”
County Peace Officer Les Squires, who was at the meeting to present a verbal report on his recent activities to council, said the enhanced RCMP posting has really only been filled for about eight of the past 24 months.
“When the (Rimbey) detachment lost a member, the enhanced position was moved to fulfill the municipal contract and it was left open until the detachment position was filled,” he explained to council.
“It wasn’t getting the bang for the buck the county was hoping for. Plus, we get a lot of complaints on the bylaw side, so it may be a better option to spend that money on hiring someone to do strictly bylaw enforcement.”
Reeve Paul McLauchlin added the intent at the time the county entered into the contract was that the position would improve visibility and enforcement, especially at a time when there was a tremendous amount of oil and gas activity in the region.
Squires did supply council at the meeting with a verbal report of his recent activities, which have been relatively quiet considering the lack of oil and gas activity in the area to go with the conclusion of harvest.
He did explain there had been a rise in the number of complaints surrounding the boat launches at Gull Lake, where some vehicles had to be towed after parking in the staging area instead of the designated lot.
“Things picked up (over the long weekend), so I have been looking into having some large signs made up for the spring, similar to the ones that are located at the launches at Lake Wabamun,” Squires told council.
“I have been in contact with the people over there to see what they have on the signs and how to get some made. Having those signs will certainly help in telling people what the rules are without me standing there handing out flyers.”
Squires added that the number of permits being issued continues to remain steady with both farmers and companies doing a good job at complying with the rules this year.
“I’ve had to hand out a couple of warnings so far, for things like no straps on loads and making sure trucks are not loaded too much,” he said, “but for the most part, its simply been a lot of public relations and making sure people understand what the rules are.”