The mayors of Coldstream, Spallumcheen and Armstrong are assuring their residents that policing services will not be affected by discussions with Vernon over support staff costs.
Vernon went public Monday (see story below) with concerns about subsidizing the communities to the tune of $300,000 a year in support costs, and saying the city would cease to provide them by July 1st without a new agreement.
Coldstream Mayor Jim Garlick says after meetings on the issue today, he can say there won’t be any service interruptions.
“We’ve said all along we’re willing to work with our partners, the City of Vernon, to get a better understanding of what the costs are, and how to move forward with this,” Garlick tells Beach Radio News.
Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown says provincial officials have to work it out with Vernon what each community has to pay.
“So at this point, Spallumcheen (is saying) we’re prepared to pay, but we need to know what we’re paying for, and if we need that service,” says Brown.
Brown says her council has budgeted for the costs.
“Last year, when we started this negotiation, we knew we would have to pay something, so we put money in our policing budget, so it’s not going to go up to the taxpayer.”
The support services cover positions like court liaison, detention facilities, CPIC, and forensic identification.
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says they also met with provincial and RCMP officials today.
“They (RCMP/province) will go back and approach the three jurisdictions’ mayors, and try to set up a meeting with all four of us to try and resolve this situation,” says Mund.
Mund says they didn’t want to do this, but says they wanted to get the issue solved.
“The reason we had to make this public was because we needed to give the jurisdictions notice, and to do that, we didn’t want to bring it out on the day of, or two weeks before,” Mund tells Beach Radio News.
The assistant commissioner of the RCMP, Eric Stubbs, was part of the meetings along with the associate director of police services from the BC Solicitor General Ministry.
Coldstream, Spallumcheen and Armstrong issued a joint news release on the issue just before 3 pm today.
News release issued by City of Armstrong, Township of Spallumcheen and District of Coldstream:
FOR THE RECORD – POLICE SERVICES:
On behalf of the District of Coldstream, the Township of Spallumcheen and the City of Armstrong in response to the recent press release from the City of Vernon regarding policing services, Mayor Garlick, Mayor Brown and Mayor Pieper would like to assure the community members of the District of Coldstream, the Township of Spallumcheen and the City of Armstrong that RCMP services will continue unaffected by any discussions between the three communities and the City of Vernon.
The three community leaders met with representatives from the Ministry of Public Safety & Solicitor General’s office of BC and leaders from RCMP services today regarding the provision of services and were assured there will be no impact to RCMP services.
May 28 story:
The City of Vernon has set a final date to stop providing RCMP support services to Coldstream, Spallumcheen and Armstrong.
Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund says the City has been subsidizing 300-thousand dollars a year in police support costs for those communities for several years, which he says they refuse to pay.
“So about a month ago we sent a letter out to the jurisdictions, giving them a drop dead date of July 1st, saying if they didn’t want to be part of the agreement, we will cease giving integrated services to them,” Mund told Beach Radio News and other media.
Mund says the impacted services include positions like court liaison, watch clerks, general investigation support, CPIC, and crime analyst, along with providing detention facilities.
He gives the example that if someone is arrested in Coldstream, Vernon would not allow the District to use its jail cells to detain the person.
“We’re tired of subsidizing $300,000 a year for the non-taxpayer of Vernon. I’m elected to serve the taxpayers of Vernon. That means I’m going to have to make tough decisions, and do what’s best for Vernon, ” adds Mund.
Mund suggests the communities could buy the services from the province if they don’t come to an agreement before July 1 with Vernon.
“Somehow they think they don’t need to pay for those services anymore. If that’s what they choose, we will drop those integrated services. They can buy them from the province, that’s fine with us. They believe the province has told them they don’t need those services.”
Mund believes about four support positions at the Vernon detachment would be lost through attrition.
He says the City has been trying to get a deal on this since 2014.
“It’s not a surprise when you work on something for four years. As you know, it’s an election year. I want it dealt with, because, what happens, it’s just going to come around again. Let’s deal with it. We’re big boys, make a decision,” states Mund.