The RCMP have a long tradition in B.C. but there's growing talk that it could come to an end.

The RCMP have a long tradition in B.C. but there's growing talk that it could come to an end.

Mounties set to ride into sunset, Ottawa warns B.C.

Policing contract talks hit new level of brinkmanship

Ottawa is threatening to start pulling the RCMP out of B.C. in 2014 if the province and cities don’t sign a new 20-year policing contract by the end of November.

Solicitor General Shirley Bond characterized it as an “ultimatum” from the federal government in a briefing session with delegates at the Union of B.C. Muncipalities convention Tuesday.

The federal move ups the ante from last month, when Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender publicly warned B.C. cities were prepared to consider abandoning the Mounties and forming a provincial force rather than sign an unpalatable RCMP contract.

Some mayors at the UBCM briefing said it appears Ottawa has called B.C.’s bluff.

So far both Bond and Fassbender – who represents cities – say they want to keep the RCMP in B.C., but not at any cost.

“We are very concerned about the future of this negotiation,” Bond said.

She said the notion of pursuing a “Plan B” – a provincial police force – is a “very expensive, very challenging” scenario to contemplate.

“I’d be enormously disappointed as a Canadian to see the end of the national police force in Canada.”

Bond said the federal negotiators have walked away from the table and so far refuse to resume negotiations.

“We simply want our partners to come back to the table,” she said.

B.C. found itself in a weakened bargaining position this summer after Alberta and Saskatchewan broke ranks and agreed to a new long-term RCMP contract that includes no reform of the cost-sharing formula or any movement on B.C. demands for measures to rein in the spiralling costs of policing.

Worse yet, the two other provinces secured a me-too clause that gives them any improved terms B.C. might negotiate and leaves B.C. unable to cut its own deal.

Fassbender cited inflated federal costs for everything from cadet training to the construction of the new RCMP E Division headquarters in Surrey, which he said has ballooned from an estimated $300 million to a price tag of $1.2 billion.

“It’s an agency that’s unaccountable,” he said, questioning why the province and local cities should have to help foot the bill for a policing building at four times the price per square foot of renting existing space.

“It’s not acceptable,” Fassbender said. “To suggest that we’re just going to sign a blank cheque isn’t going to wash with any of us.”

He called on B.C. mayors and councillors to lobby their local MPs and press the federal government to return to the bargaining table.

Bond said she’s concerned Ottawa may want to terminate the entire contract policing model, which leaves B.C. out of step with provinces such as Ontario and Quebec that have their own provincial forces.

Large cities currently pay 90 per cent of RCMP costs, while smaller ones shoulder 70 per cent.

Civic reps want Ottawa to take on a larger share.

The current RCMP contract expires at the end of March.

There have been repeated calls over the years for Metro Vancouver to adopt a regional police force.

Advocates say it would be better equipped to bust gangs and other criminals who don’t care about civic borders.

There are 11 RCMP detachments in the Lower Mainland, including Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver and Surrey.

Seven cities are policed by municipal forces.

Just Posted

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A motorycle crash has been reported on Westside Road. (Google Maps)
UPDATE: Westside Road reopened following motorcycle crash near Vernon

AIM Roads advises drivers to expect delays due to congestion

Dereck Donald Sears. (Contributed/Crimestoppers)
Murder charge laid in relation to suspicious Kelowna death

Dereck Donald Sears is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Darren Middleton

An Armstrong family that lost their home to a fire on Wednesday still hasn’t found their cat as of Friday, June 18, 2021. (Facebook photo)
Family cat still missing, days after fire destroys Armstrong home

There were no injuries from Wednesday’s blaze, but two days later there’s still no sign of the white feline

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
Donors who gave $1M to Central Okanagan grads want to send positive message

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File photo)
Penticton not holding Canada Day activities out of respect for Indigenous people

Cities across B.C. are cancelling the holiday after an increased spotlight on Canada’s dark history

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Most Read