Black Diamond council voted to support the RCMP's continued service in Alberta last week.
The motion to continue with RCMP in the community arose after a presentation from Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson concerning a possible provincial police force at council's June 2 meeting.
Sigurdson said the the provincial police force review is coming to a close and was going to be released soon.
“What that means for Alberta has been finalized and is now being presented to executive council,” Sigurdson said.
Following Sigurdson's presentation, Deputy Mayor Daryl Lalonde questioned whether the expenses of reviewing a possible provincial police service were justifiable in the pandemic.
“I don’t think the province is in the position to spend the money coming out of the pandemic,” said Lalonde.
“How much money has the UCP spent on researching and developing the provincial police force during a pandemic, when perhaps that money could have been sent to a small business?”
The $2 million cost of the study, carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, was part of the UCP budget, Sigurdson replied.
“The amount that’s been spent on the study was earmarked for that study in our budget,” he said.
“We’ve sent hundreds of millions of dollars to business supports.”
The final cost of the report, he added, would be shared when available.
Later, council voted 5-1 in favour on a motion presented by Lalonde to draft a letter to Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu supporting the continued RCMP policing in Alberta.
“I do not think the RCMP are doing a poor job, I think they are remarkable at what they do,” Lalonde said in a comment to his motion.
“These people live in our province, they live in our communities. They’re a part of us.
“I think the RCMP have been fantastic in what they’ve done for Black Diamond, Turner Valley, and our area, and I look forward to a long relationship with them.”
Coun. Ted Bain chimed in with his agreement, noting a survey of attendees of a webinar held by the AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) on the provincial police review, in which over 80 per cent of respondents voted in favour of keeping the RCMP, with improvements to oversight and service levels.
“I think they’re doing a great job,” Bain said. “They don’t have all the resources they need, but no one ever does.
“Given what they have I think they’re doing great.”
Coun. Brian Marconi took issue with the motion, stating he would prefer to see the results of the Province’s review.
“I think it’s a premature request because we don’t have all the facts and figures,” Marconi said.
“We haven’t seen both sides of the argument.”
He pointed to the example of Surrey, B.C. that is making the change to a municipal police force.
In a June 7 interview, Lalonde added he would prefer to see the province working with the RCMP.
“I can't speak for all municipalities, but I know with our detachment in Turner Valley, the detachment commander does a great job in communicating with both councils about what’s going on in the neighbourhoods,” Lalonde said.
“They constantly ask for input, where we would like to see more help, they’re very open and involved.
“They should be recognized for that, rather than have our provincial leader get into a debate with Ottawa because he’s not happy with them.
“As far as resources coming from Ottawa, our province could go to them and go ‘Hey, we need more bodies, more boots on the ground, we need better technology, better tracking, whatever they need.’
“We should be advocating on their behalf to get what they need, not replacing them.”
In a written statement, Alberta RCMP spokesperson Fraser Logan said the agency remains committed to Albertans.
"We are extremely fortunate to have the support of our communities and we remain committed to keeping Albertans safe," he said.
"As the provincial government finalizes their review of our police service, our efforts remain focused on modernizing our police service and delivery in order to build upon efficiencies and target those who cause the most harm in our communities.
"We have prioritized community engagement with stakeholders, leaders and citizens as we take a collaborative approach to addressing the root causes of crime and identifying wrap-around tools for issues such as addictions and mental health.”