Province steps in as Coaldale fights to pay less for RCMP services

The town of Coaldale continues its years-long battle to secure a cost-sharing agreement for its policing services with the federal government.

“We were dealing with guidelines for new entrants,” said Mayor Jack Van Rijn. “If you were historically policed ​​by the RCMP, you would get the police contract at a 30 percent discount.”

But that didn’t happen. According to Van Rijn, the city would pay about $460,000 less per year if a federal partnership were in place.

“We could use that (money) because at the moment we are looking at building a new second swimming pool, we are looking at a second layer of ice. We have roads that need to be fixed, we have sidewalks that need to be replaced.

And they’re not technically a new entrant.

In the past, Coaldale had its own police service before officially joining the Lethbridge Regional Police Service. He returned to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 2016.

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“If you have a population of 5,000 or less, the cost of policing is covered by the federal government. If you’re between 5,000 and 15,000 people, it’s a 70/30 split.

Coaldale has a population of approximately 8,700 people. The city has been advocating with the federal government for support for several years, with no progress.

“We are the only municipality in Canada, according to our population, that pays 100%.

On Monday, Alberta Judge and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro wrote a letter asking for help from the town of Coaldale, which, despite being able to prove it was previously served by the RCMP in the early 1900s was responsible for 100 percent of the cost of policing.

The letter was sent to Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino.

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Discussion on support for RCMP in Lethbridge as Alberta considers provincial police force – January 19, 2022

“I understand the concern was to prevent large municipalities that hold economic viability from paying for independent police services to convert to municipal RCMP contracts, simply for the cost savings of 10% or 30%,” reads Shandro’s letter.

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“It was not necessarily intended for emerging municipalities at the lower population threshold between 5,001 and 14,999.

“Providing a 70/30 cost-sharing arrangement to these new entrants would require minimal cost impact to the federal government and would be of immense benefit to these municipalities.

In the letter, Shandro also compared Coaldale’s situation to that of New Brunswick municipalities.

“I understand that there are two examples of communities impacted by the (New Entrant Guidelines) who subsequently benefited from cost-sharing arrangements under the Municipal Policing Agreement with the Canada’s agreement, following the 2012 Provincial Policing Agreement) renegotiation,” Shandro wrote.

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The town of Sackville, New Brunswick paid for 100% of its own RCMP policing services for about a decade between 2003 and 2012 before the policy change.

“As we all know, policing is a very high expense,” said Sackville Mayor Shawn Mesheau.

“Any opportunity that we can somehow share that cost with the federal government is important to us as a community, to our region, and to our ratepayers.”

Mesheau said the cost-sharing agreement saved them about $500,000 in annual expenses.

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“We really appreciate and (need) the federal government to be there to help provide these key services to our residents.”

Global News has reached out to Medicino’s office for comment on the letter and concerns raised by the province and city.

“Minister Mendicino has received the letter from Alberta and we look forward to working with our provincial and municipal colleagues to ensure that all residents of Coaldale are supported,” reads the full statement from the Director of Communications Alexander Cohen.

Alberta RCMP said as non-decision-making service providers in this situation, they would not be able to comment.

On Wednesday, Van Rijn told Global News he had yet to hear from the federal government.

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