The Town of Sylvan Lake and Town Council are concerned about policing costs in Sylvan Lake, and recently sent a letter to the Minister of Justice discussing these concerns.
Last July, Town Council adjusted its budget for police costs for 2017 to $1,982,000. Director of Finance Darren Moore told Council at the time to expect a budget of more than $2 million 2018 policing costs.
These costs will only grow with the town’s population. Currently the Town does not pay the entire RCMP contract, instead it is split with the province.
Once a Town reaches a population of at least 15,000 people it is expected the Town will pay the entire contract.
According to the 2016 Federal Census, Sylvan Lake has a population of 14,310.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley responded to the letter sent to give Council further information regarding police funding.
Currently the Law Enforcement Framework is in play, which holds the principle of cost equity for policing, according to Ganley’s letter.
“My ministry has held multiple consultations with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and the … Rural Municipalities of Alberta in advancing this initiative,” Ganley wrote in the letter.
A guiding principle of the framework is described as: “The cost of policing services in Alberta should be shared in an equitable manner among Albertans and Alberta communities.”
The framework also says that law enforcement resources should be effectively organized and deployed to maximize community-based approaches to local policing, while ensuring the ability of police to handle complex investigations.
“No changes are being brought forward at this time,” Ganley’s letter says.
The Ministry of Justice does provide grants to communities paying for their own policing. Municipalities may apply for the Municipal Policing Assistance Grants and Police Office Grants, there are also returns of provincial fine revenues which is said to assisted in offsetting policing costs.
However, Council is concerned these grants and returns may not meet the need of the community, de to crime and policing efforts in neighbouring communities, which are also the responsibility of the Sylvan Lake RCMP.
“The Alberta Government is working to reduce and manage crime through a holistic, multifaceted approach aimed at managing offender, reducing pressure on the justice system and provide supports that lead to a safer Alberta for the long term,” Ganley said.
There are more police officer today in Alberta, per capita, than there were 10 years ago, according to Ganely.
The provincial government also invests about half a billion dollars into policing each year.
The government also recently announced funding has been made for 39 new RCMP members, 40 civilian staff and 10 new Crown prosecutors to the tune of about $10 million.
These new additions will be set to focus on rural crime in Alberta.
“The resources will be used and deployed in the best manner for their communities and in response to emerging trends such as proper crime,” said Ganely.
Mayor Sean McIntyre called the letter “interesting,” at a recent meeting of Council.