M.D. council pushing back on policing costs

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

According to the scheme announced by the province, rural municipalities have to start paying a portion of policing costs. Those under 5,000 in population have been exempt from these costs, which are covered by the province.

Starting next year, the bill will be around $150,000 for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River. That, according to the provincial calculation, represents 10 per cent of the M.D.’s share of what the government is investing in enhanced rural policing. The government’s schedule has the bill rising to $317,000 in 2024 (a 30 per cent share), representing $113 per M.D. resident.

The big question for the M.D. council has to do with bang for buck. Will the M.D. of Lesser Slave River really get $150,000-worth of more or better policing in 2021? It’s fair to say councillors are skeptical. Also a factor is that the province is doing a ‘corporate review’ of the RCMP in Alberta, including on its organizational structure, effectiveness, etc.

In council’s agenda at its Sept. 23 meeting was a resolution to bring to the Pembina Zone of the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA). It calls for the province to freeze the funding model at 10 per cent until the corporate review is completed.

Further, the M.D. would like the province to ensure that all money collected for enhanced policing, “remain in the RMA district from where it was collected.”

As to the 10 per cent figure, councillor Brad Pearson recommended a change in wording to say 10 per cent is as high as it should go, not as a starting point.

Councillor Robert Esau put in a word for bang for M.D. buck.

“If we’re going to pay for something, we should have the goods to reflect that,” he said.

Council passed a motion approving the resolutions, as amended.

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