Armstrong’s Mayor, Chris Pieper is confident discussions over the next few weeks will resolve the issue of who pays for RCMP support services.
The city of Vernon feels it’s been “subsidizing” the costs for neighbouring communities and will end that coverage September 4th.
The RCMP presented the communities with 2 options – continued centralized operations or transferring duties back to rural detachments.
Armstrong Council has voted to support that concept.
“Staff have been working on a solution. I’m sure there will be a solution for it. What it is, I’m not sure but we’ll proceed in a positive manner to work it out with Vernon and the other municipalities.”
Armstrong would be billed over 60 thousand dollars in a continued centralized arrangement.
Mayor Pieper says it’s something Armstrong never budgeted for when it’s main cost increased due to growth.
“Armstrong just went through going from a rural community to a 70/30 community which had about a tripling of the cost for RCMP services.”
Decentralizing support services would not cost Armstrong extra under the current policing arrangement with the province.
That is also supported by Spallumcheen.
In Coldstream, Mayor Jim Garlick says the district needs more information.
“What we’ve heard at this time is that the traffic group in the RCMP are going to be leaving the Vernon detachment as well. There are possibilities that Coldstream could go with them or we could look at going with Lumby or we could look at a stand alone detachment here.”
Continuing with Vernon would add an extra 33 thousand 665 thousand to Coldstream’s bill.
Garlick doesn’t like the word “subsidy” that Vernon has talked about, saying the situation has evolved over time.
“Nobody was asked, the other communities weren’t asked about these services previously. They were just brought into place and actually the City of Vernon took on staff members when existing provincial staff members existed in the support services.”
Currently, Coldstream funds 7 RCMP officers and 2 support staff that work out of the Vernon North Okanagan Detachment.
The RCMP has assured communities that services will not stop as the matter is sorted out.
Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli, the District Commander for the Southeast District of the RCMP is overseeing the matter.
He’s outlined to the communities involved the services rendered under the two options and will continue discussions with all parties.
In a letter to the communities, he says from his perspective this has been a good learning exercise for everyone involved and will result in further opportunities beyond the Support Services Options
Chief Superintendent Haugli says the new Officer in Charge of the Vernon North Okanagan Detachment, Superintendent Shawna Baher will create a sustained governance model that ensures regular and frequent communication and accountability to all funding stakeholders including the City of Vernon, Municipality of Coldstream,
Municipality of Spallumcheen, and the Municipality of Armstrong.
He adds that Superintendent Baher will lead a review of the current police officer structure to ensure appropriate deployment and service delivery of resources from all funding stakeholders.