Richmond residents asked to weigh in on municipal police debate

Taxpayers being encouraged to take part in municipal police force question

The City of Richmond is launching a public consultation period into whether or not it should set up its own police force.

Beginning Jan. 11, the consultation will continue until Feb. 29 and will, ultimately, ask residents their thoughts on whether they want to continue with the current service provided by the RCMP or establish an independent Richmond police department.

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RCMP red surge
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Under city council’s direction, city staff have been conducting an ongoing, comprehensive review of police services.

But before any final decision is made, council is asking for the community to weigh in on the two options.

From Jan. 11, the public can access a Discussion Guide and other supporting information, as well as a feedback survey on www.letstalkrichmond.ca.

Printed versions of the discussion guide and survey will also be available for pick-up at city hall or can be mailed by request.

Public open houses and other consultative meetings will be held in January and February.

Watch for dates and other details about these meetings on the city website at richmond.ca and in the Richmond News.

The city will also be conducting public polling to gather additional information.

All feedback received as part of the public consultation will be reported to council to assist in its final decision, according to the city.

The News reported earlier this month how the City of Richmond estimated the transition alone to a municipal police force would cost close to of $20 million.

The report was drafted following a request from Richmond city council, which, on the whole, has expressed concerns about local control and oversight of the Richmond RCMP detachment.

In addition to the one-time transition costs, it is estimated that a municipal force will cost about seven per cent — or $3 million — more to operate on an annual basis, meaning a 1.5 per cent increase to property taxes.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie said previously that residents would have to contrast paying more money for a municipal force with having a local detachment where decisions are being made in Ottawa and "very often there's no consultation, no discussion, or even any considerations at a local level."

In 2012, the B.C. government renewed a 20-year contract with the federal government to allow the RCMP to continue to work in the province at a municipal level. That contract can be terminated by Richmond with a two-year notice.

The annual budget for the Richmond RCMP contract is approximately $41.5 million.

With files from Graeme Wood/Richmond News

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© Richmond News

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