February 23, 2023
Edmonton, AB – Following is a statement from Brian Sauvé, President, National Police Federation, in response to an announcement by the Government of Alberta to support the creation of a local police service in Grande Prairie, Alberta:
“Yesterday, the Government of Alberta announced its promise to partially fund the creation of a local police service in Grande Prairie, subject to Budget 2023 passing in the provincial legislature, to the tune of $9.7 million over two years. This announcement comes the day after the City of Grande Prairie publicly released its City of Grande Prairie Policing Transition Final Report, written by MNP.
In the report, Municipal Council has stated that they will decide on March 6, 2023 whether to or not to proceed with a transition away from the RCMP. Surprisingly, the Council signaled that it already intends to vote in favour of a transition even though the transition plan hasn’t been circulated among Grande Prairie residents. In fact, to date, just over 1% of the population in Grande Prairie has been consulted about such a transition, which doesn’t appear very transparent or reflective of the broad will of its residents.
While this decision will be one of the largest and most impactful decisions that the current council will make for the residents of Grande Prairie, there is actually no mechanism currently in place for residents to properly review, assess, and question their municipal government on the details contained in this 100+ page report in just under two weeks.
The report suggests a need for $19m in transition costs, which the province says it will partially provide. Council’s decision, however, will have major financial implications for residents of the City of Grande Prairie as this report is not a feasibility study and does not investigate nor account for the full cost of such a transition. Some examples of cost concerns that were not considered include IT, officer training, equipment and resources, and recruitment.
Residents of Grande Prairie need to be aware that there are still many unknowns regarding such a transition, and that they should expect that the final cost will be considerably higher than $19M.
We have already seen low-ball transition costing promises before in cities like Surrey, BC, and the reality is that taxpayers end up shouldering a significantly higher amount for both startup and future annual operating costs. The lack of a feasibility study to examine all areas of concern and possible costs caused the City of Surrey to increase property taxes by 11% to pay for the transition and future operating costs.
In 2019, the City of Red Deer decided not to transition to a municipal police service due to the high cost to its taxpayers and lack of improvement on public safety.
Our Members continue to be asked to do more with less when they are already overworked, stressed, and not fully resourced – instead of providing funding to this costly and arguably unnecessary local police service, the NPF recommends the Government of Alberta instead make much needed investments to bolster the RCMP in Alberta.”
About the National Police Federation:
The National Police Federation (NPF) represents ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally. It is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada and second largest in North America. We are focused on improving public safety in Canada for our Members and all Canadians by advocating for investment in policing and other related supports and services. This includes calling for required resourcing, equipment, and supports to enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.
Fabrice de Dongo
Manager, Media Relations
Coordinator, Media Relations