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

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Falcons host basketball invitational

40 student volunteers helped support 180 players, 28 games

Atom Stars host hockey tourney

Seven teams from the region clashed sticks

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

RCMP say it’s just as likely that criminal are getting more clever

UPDATE: Two people die in ATV accident south of Campbell River

Third person survived attempt to cross a creek

Coal dust escaping rail cars spurs B.C. petition

Local governments are on board with Shuswap resident’s request for better control of escaping particulate

Lawyers slam ‘de facto expulsion’ of student guilty of sexual interference

Calgary student guilty of sexual assault of a minor allowed to finish semester

B.C. NDP set to restructure union bargaining

School trustees to regain control over employer group

New development in missing plane near Revelstoke

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

UK’s Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, engaged

Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, will marry Jack Brooksbank in Autumn 2018

Most Read