Prairie Post (West Edition)

Fighting for better rural policing


Alberta’s government is pressing the Federal government to step up its support for policing in Coaldale, the only small town in Canada that has to pay 100% of the costs for RCMP policing.

For eight years, the Town of Coaldale has lobbied the federal government to fund its policing costs at the same rate it funds other small towns.

The federal government should be paying 30 per cent, but because of its refusal to do so, ratepayers in Coaldale have been saddled with $4 million in extra costs.

To make matters worse, the federal government has shown a willingnes­s to fix this problem in the past, just not with Coaldale. In 2012, two small municipali­ties in eastern Canada that were required to pay 100 per cent of the costs for the RCMP were made eligible for the cost-sharing agreement.

Alberta’s government is trying to fix this wrong. An open letter to the federal Minister of Public Safety has been sent supporting Coaldale and further actions are being explored.

Further, should Alberta implement a provincial police service, the cost-sharing agreement for all small towns will be honoured. Alberta’s government also commits to funding the federal government’s portion of funding for Coaldale throughout the transition period.

“The federal government has failed Coaldale. Discrimina­ting against small town Alberta and forcing ratepayers to pay $4 million in extra costs is unacceptab­le. This is yet another example of why Alberta needs to consider adopting a provincial police service. The federal government’s administra­tion of policing is incompeten­t. That’s why British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchew­an, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are all looking at an alternativ­e.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

“We’ve been fighting for over eight years to draw attention to this unjust and discrimina­tory policy. In all that time, not one federal minister has been willing to meet with us to hear our side. We appreciate the provincial government’s advocacy on our behalf, and it leads us to believe an Alberta provincial police service could be more responsive to our community’s needs.”

Jack Van Rijn, mayor, Town of Coaldale

The federal government’s inaction and financial strain of paying 100 per cent of its policing costs prompted the Town of Coaldale this week to endorse the Alberta government’s work to study the feasibilit­y of creating a provincial police service.

No decisions have been made about transition­ing from the RCMP to a provincial police service, but Alberta’s government has pledged that any costs associated with such a move would not be passed on to municipali­ties.

Quick facts

• Coaldale has been policed by the RCMP under a municipal policing agreement with Public Safety Canada since 2016 – but unlike others that have municipal RCMP contracts, Coaldale pays 100 per cent of the cost.

• Coaldale has been denied federal funding on the basis that it switched to the RCMP after Public Safety Canada created the New Entrants Guideline in 1992 – a provision that ended the federal subsidy for communitie­s that were never policed by the RCMP.

• Coaldale was, in fact, policed by the RCMP for several decades before forming its own police service in 1954. Coaldale later disbanded its police service and contracted with the police service in neighbouri­ng Lethbridge from 2004 to 2015.

• History of policing in Coaldale:

1905-1916: RCMP (municipali­ty under jurisdicti­on of provincial police service)

1917-1931: Alberta Provincial Police, augmented by RCMP

1932-1953: RCMP (municipali­ty under jurisdicti­on of provincial police service)

1954-2003: Coaldale Police Service

2004-2015: Lethbridge Regional Police

2016-present: RCMP (municipal policing agreement)

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