by Colin Smith
To help provide information on where candidates for Council stand on matters of interest to residents, Morinville Online will be asking them a question each week for the duration of the election campaign and publishing their responses. The responses may have been edited for length and clarity.
Today’s Question: The Alberta Government has put forward the possibility of replacing the RCMP for municipal and rural policing in the province with a provincial police force. Do you feel Morinville should be advocating for the retention of RCMP policing, or that it should support an Alberta police force or leave it to the government to decide, with the idea that it might be advantageous for the province?
Simon Boersma: The priorities are: first safety, second cost. Morinville residents need to feel safe. How do we share information across jurisdictions, with the Alberta Provincial Police providing another layer of bureaucracy? For example, a high offender may want to go to Alberta. Today, the RCMP will be notified. Will notification be the same with the Alberta Provincial Police? Morinville works with a proven cost-shared formula. Could the new costs be higher? The province offers no answers. Right now is not the time to be looking at unknown costs and effects on our town. I will advocate for retention of RCMP policing.
Shane Ladouceur: I believe that Morinville should support a provincial police force. It costs us Albertans $120,000 to rent one RCMP member. If we had our own provincial police force we could get two police members at the same cost. That is double the police force for the same price. So I’m a firm believer in a provincial police force. Alberta used to have its own provincial police force in the 1930s. So it’s not a new thing. But getting two more police members for the same price as renting one is a great move for all of us taxpayers in Alberta.
Barry Turner: While this is an area of provincial jurisdiction, Council also has a role as an advocate for its residents, particularly with other orders of government, and has shared concerns with the provincial government regarding its research on implementing a provincial police force. At this point in time, there is little evidence that a new model for policing would bring much additional benefit to our community. Transitional costs are also not clear, and it is not a prudent time to be spending public dollars for something that may not improve outcomes. These funds would be better spent on support for our existing RCMP detachments.
Nicole Boutestein: With the insufficient information that the Government of Alberta has provided thus far, I feel that Morinville should be advocating to retain the RCMP. With little to no consultation with municipalities, there are simply too many unanswered questions.
Currently, municipalities like Morinville that hold contracts with the RCMP receive some of their funding from the provincial government, which receives funding from the Government of Canada. If a provincial police force is created will the federal government continue to fund this new initiative? There’s no evidence thus far that this would be beneficial for Alberta, let alone Morinville.
Stephen Dafoe: The matter of provincial policing was going to be on the ballot, but the government changed that. I think municipalities ought to have a say in the matter because our residents pay for policing — in our case, about $1.4 million per year. As this conversation begins to unfold in the coming months or years, the next Council will need to get the pulse of our residents on the matter. The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association has done a fair amount on this topic, including hosting two sessions for elected officials. That session had representation for both sides of the issue.
Wayne Gatza: The province of Alberta signed a contract with the RCMP that doesn’t expire until 2032. I believe we should be advocating to keep the RCMP as we currently know the costs associated with policing from the RCMP. There are certainly too many unknowns with the Alberta Provincial Police force at this time, especially in the area of financial commitments and funding. The federal government does provide funding to the provinces for the RCMP to help offset some of the financial costs. It’s important to ensure the safety of our community for our residents, which I believe the RCMP currently provides.
Jenn Anheliger: At this stage, Morinville should not advocate for a provincial police force. The likely high cost to transition and with that, the loss of federal funding is a financial strain that Morinville cannot bear. Until the “Alberta Provincial Police Service Transition Study” is made available, I would be unwilling to experiment with taxpayer dollars on a system offering no guarantee of increased levels of service and community input. Should the study demonstrate that a provincial police force would enhance the policing level to an extent that could justify the increased cost, I would be willing to explore the potential further.
Alan John Otway: Both Calgary and Edmonton have city police, as do Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, etc. Ontario and Quebec have provincial police. All have RCMP. There are advantages to breaking out the tasks and responsibilities, and challenges in communications and coordination. I would expect council to be presented with full analysis of cost per capita, as well as crime numbers comparisons to vote on this. The complexity of rural and urban crime statistics is increasing, and every solution needs detailed evaluation. That would be my ask of administration for the taxpayers’ benefit.
Scott Richardson: From the information I’ve seen there would be substantial cost associated with transferring to a provincial police force. Given the current economic picture I’m not sure it would be advantageous for Alberta to move in that direction right now. I don’t think the rewards outweigh the cost. I also think that it’s a bit premature and more robust engagement needs to happen across the province.
Maurice St. Denis: First and foremost I would like to thank the officers and detachment for supporting community safety in Morinville. As an elected official I would advocate for increased public safety and decreased response times—regardless of the provider. I don’t like to immediately rule out ideas that might improve services and reduce costs. There would need to be substantial evidence presented that policing changes would improve service levels and provide a return on our investment. I believe we need to continue ensuring that our investment in policing continues to provide value and safety for Morinville and this is my primary focus.
Erin Vollick: I believe a provincial police force would be more accountable and better suited to the needs of Albertans than the RCMP. That being said, when it comes to this issue because it is a provincial matter and will be voted on via a provincial referendum question, I don’t believe the town of Morinville should involve itself in this matter and should respect what Albertans say as a whole. I do not feel that whatever position the town makes would be reflective of Albertans’ voice, and I would not want to speak on behalf of the citizens of Morinville for this important provincial decision.
Rebecca Balanko: No response was received
Sarah Hall: No response was received
Ray White: No response was received