Richmond councillor calls new RCMP contract ‘a joke’

A new 20-year deal with the RCMP got a frosty reception at city hall Monday as elected officials refused to sign a contract one councillor said is “full of holes.”

“It’s a joke,” said Coun. Derek Dang, chair of council’s community safety committee. “We’re going to sign a 20-year agreement that saddles my kids and maybe their kids, to a contract and we don’t know what the final outcome is. It’s untenable.”

Richmond council passed on its first chance to endorse a contract with the province to secure policing services from federal Mounties. Last month federal and provincial ministers signed the deal, giving city councils until the end of April to ratify.

Dang and his council colleagues agreed Monday to wait until the RCMP/Mayors’ Consultative Forum meets April 20 before making a move.

“I want to make a statement on this because I don’t believe anyone else has got the cojones in the region to actually do something,” said Dang, noting the contract is being signed by a government “on its last legs.”

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said that meeting would provide “a better indication of the temperature” of other mayors toward the deal.

“There just hasn’t been a lot of appetite in my opinion to critically analyze the contract,” said Brodie. “It seems like the councils will argue for an hour over an $8,000 item, yet you have a 20-year contract with cost increases and changing roles and...nobody wants to talk about it.”

Civic politicians don’t like the deal because Richmond had no direct input. The deal gives Richmond little in the way of “functional” changes, but will cost more, said Phyllis Carlyle, the city’s general manager of law and community safety. Those costs could average 2.7 per cent per year for the next five years—in addition to typical increases in salary and equipment—but firm numbers haven’t been landed on.

Carlyle said cities have been told the federal government would offer more cash for specialty integrated policing teams in the region, but that’s not indicated in the contract.

Asked if anything is regressive in the deal, Carlyle said: “There is some federal downloading here, and I do think that is a regressive move, myself.”

Richmond, which previously launched its own review of policing services, is one of few critics of the contract. But if Richmond doesn’t sign by April 30, the Police Act gives the province power to decide on local police services—and bill the city for them. If that happens, Richmond could also be on the hook for the federal government’s 10 per cent cost contribution.

The contract secures the RCMP through March 31, 2032, but Richmond can sever ties with 25 months notice, provided the notice is given in the month of March.

Some councillors say they favour a regional force, but that would require political will and co-ordination, as the province has left those discussions up to cities, according to staff.

Coun. Ken Johnston said a municipal force wouldn’t be feasible. He favours a regional force, but other cities don’t seem to be interested. That leaves Richmond forced to sign the new RCMP contract—unless it’s willing to give the province “carte blanche to charge whatever it wants.”

“I’d love to vote against it, but I just don’t think it’s practical. I’d rather know what I’ve got as opposed to (providing) an open chequebook,” he said.

A review of police services in Richmond concluded in 2009, but failed to determine whether a municipal force or a regional force would be a better fit. Instead, it made suggestions on how a new deal with the RCMP could be improved—items the city isn’t able to directly negotiate.

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