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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sources team members (left to right) Carrie Belanger, Abby Gemino, Tatiana Belyaeva, Yasmin de Joya-Pagal cheer during the 2020 Coldest Night of the Year event. This year’s event will be virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sources photo)
White Rock’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser goes virtual

Annual walk raises funds for variety of Sources programs and services

An Amica White Rock resident receives the COVID-19 vaccine during a Jan. 15, 2021 clinic. (Tracy Holmes photo)
PHOTOS: South Surrey seniors grateful for ‘freedom’ of COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinics at Fraser Health long-term and assisted-living sites were to wrap up Jan. 15

Surrey Council Chambers. (File photo)
Surrey city councillors complain not enough public input in committees

City has gone ‘exactly the opposite direction,’ Councillor Brenda Locke charges

A Transit Police officer and another driver were injured on Nov. 4 in a traffic crash while the officer was responding to another officers call for help catching a man who escaped custody. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Police watchdog investigating Surrey crash that injured transit cop, another driver

Crash happened 11 p.m. Nov. 4, at 128th Street and 93rd Avenue in Cedar Hills

Friends and family of murder victim Paul Prestbakmo wore memorial masks outside Surrey Provincial Court Jan. 14, 2021. (From left) Family friend Tyler Whitley, sister Angela Prestbakmo, childhood friend Jimmy Slater, brother Steve Prestbakmo, Semiahmoo First Nation councillor Roxanne Charles and sister Liz Prestbakmo. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Two accused in 2019 South Surrey murder were ‘really angry,’ pacing at party: witness

‘We had this really strong gut feeling that something was really wrong’

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

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

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Most Read