Surrey municipal police may hurt Squamish’s wallet: District council

On Sept. 3, Squamish councillors voted in favour of writing a letter to the provincial government regarding concerns

The creation of a municipal police force in Surrey could have budget impacts for other municipalities using the services of the RCMP, including Squamish, elected officials say.

 That city recently proposed creating its own municipal police force to replace the services it contracts from the RCMP. The province approved this proposal in late August.

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As a result, if Surrey is no longer contributing to RCMP coffers, other communities using Mounties’ services — especially the integrated teams — may have to either cut back or pay more.

Integrated teams pool resources across municipalities for certain cases. One high-profile example is the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).

“Surrey contributes a huge amount to our shared resources of the RCMP — so the integrated teams,” said Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “Without their contribution, while they won’t be using resources, the rest of us that use them aren’t sure we can afford them at the level we’ve grown accustomed to.”

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring first raised this issue in a letter sent to Squamish council, several other municipalities and the province.

“The potential loss of the largest single detachment in this partnership could mean those costs will have to be allocated across the remaining partners,” reads the letter from Siebring.

On Sept. 3, Squamish councillors voted in favour of writing a letter to the provincial government supporting Siebring’s concerns. Council intends to draft the letter in consultation with local Mounties.

“This is basically to give the [assistant deputy minister] a heads-up that there’s a lot of us that are concerned about how this will impact our budgets, and our policing going forward,” Elliott said.

District CAO Linda Glenday said non-RCMP municipal police forces can choose to be part of integrated teams, so that may prevent the budget impact that some are fearing.

However, it’s unclear what will happen at this point, Glenday said.

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