Richmond will not be bullied into signing a 20-year RCMP contract thats littered with question marks.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie was reacting to remarks made by Attorney General Shirley Bond, who warned the city that not signing the contract would break the law and cost Richmond taxpayers money.
Brodie, however, fired back, saying that the city is still waiting on Bonds ministry to answer key questions and that signing the contract would also cost taxpayers lots of cash.
The mayors continued holding pattern on the contract as well as that of the city and district of North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Burnaby came after the deadline to sign the deal was extended yet again, even though Richmond didnt ask for an extension.
They just volunteered the extension, we didnt ask for it. They changed it to April and then May, now June. And its this time, we really mean it, that were being told, said Brodie.
An agreement should be something we agree on; were not even close on that.
I hear Shirley Bond telling us that if we dont sign it, theres going to be extra costs for the taxpayer. But if we do sign it theres going to be extra costs. Were caught in a very difficult position.
Brodie said the city has been voicing the same concerns over RCMP cost control wages, pensions, integrated forces and who is to pay for the new provincial RCMP HQ in Surrey for several years with no response.
Weve had no response from the province, thats where these questions go, said Brodie.
Were asking for a meeting with Shirley Bond because weve been asking these questions for years.
Ultimately, its the people of Richmond that will end up having to pay, added Brodie, who said the city is now starting to seriously look at an alternative policing model.
Up until now, the focus has been on trying to get answers about the contract, he said.
We will now look at the alternatives and see what we come up with.
In terms of alternatives, my preference would be for some sort of regional arrangement (with the other cities which havent signed.
Brodie warned, however, that the city would probably need more than the two years offered by the federal government to remain with the RCMP while an alternative police force is put in place.
My concern is for the people of Richmond and Im going to do what is best for them, Brodie said of the political pressure being applied by both Bond and Premier Christy Clark this week for the rebel cities to sign the deal.
Im motivated by whats best for (Richmond people). The province will be motivated by whats best for the province.
And theres a document that needs to be drafted, Brodie added, thats going to interpret the contract if theres a dispute.
How can we sign a 20-year deal without that in place, he said.
I still have a real concern with a 20-year term. Theres a review every five years but our involvement in that is minimal.
Bond did not respond to questions from the News by press time.