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New RCMP contract increases costs for RMOW, Squamish

Municipalities to have more control over policing under new model



A new 20-year contract between the province and the federal government for the RCMP will mean some added costs for Whistler.

In 2012/13 the increase is projected to be in the $28,000 range and by 2015/16 that will rise to roughly $119,000.

For Whistler, policing costs have always been higher than the population would require due to the number of temporary workers and visitors to the resort. The population can vary as much as 30,000 from weekend to weekend, requiring additional staff resources and the hiring of additional officers from Lower Mainland detachments during busy times.

As a result, Whistler pays the base amount for a community between 5,000 and 15,000 plus additional money for overtime — specifically hiring additional officers from outside the community — and use of RCMP integrated teams. The total budget for RCMP is $3,256,000, which doesn't include overtime hours paid using funds from Additional Hotel Room Tax. Whistler boasts a force of 23 RCMP members, plus support staff, vehicles and the detachment office.

"We do have more police members than a typical community of 10,000 to help ensure we have adequate service to reflect our resort community needs, but still only pay 70 per cent," said the RMOW in a statement.

Between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, Squamish crossed the 15,000 threshold. The latest census put the figure at 17,158 residents, which means that the community is responsible for 90 per cent of policing costs. As a result, policing costs were expected to increase at least $720,000 this year not including Squamish's share of the overall $2.35 million increase included in the new contract.

The province is expected to see its annual policing costs grow $5.7 million in 2012-2013 over the current total of $310 million. Communities with populations between 5,000 and $10,000 will jointly pay an increase of $320,000 a year based on their size, while communities over 15,000 will pay a share of a $2.35 million increase.

The basic cost-sharing formula will be the same for the province and municipalities, with some increases shared between communities. The province and federal government pay 70-30 for rural and unincorporated areas of the province with no charge to residents. Small municipalities with populations of 5,000 to 15,000 will continue to pay 70 per cent of contract costs with the federal government paying the other 30 per cent. Municipalities over 15,000 — a threshold recently crossed by the District of Squamish — will pay 90 per cent, with the federal government paying the remainder.

The new RCMP contract signed by the province and federal Government will also give municipalities more of a say in the management of local detachments and how money is spent — and provide more certainty for communities that they won't face unexpected increases.

Last November, the federal government threatened to pull the RCMP from the province by 2014 if they didn't sign a contract. As a result, the province was forced to look at alternatives, such as creating a provincial police force similar to Ontario — something not seen in B.C. since 1950.

Both sides cooled their rhetoric since November and negotiated through the winter, resulting in the amended contract.

The existing RCMP contract expires on March 31, 2012.

Some of the highlights of the new contract include:

• Provincial, federal and municipal governments will now jointly oversee how RCMP services are delivered and costs are managed, with a five-year review to ensure that the new system is working.

• The Province has established a B.C. Local Government RCMP Contract Management Committee, which will be operated by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) to review costs and service decisions.

The agreement also includes a framework for communities to transition to their own or a shared force, and more transparency at all levels. Costs cannot be increased without provincial support.