City of Vernon to withdraw RCMP integrated services support to municipalities

City of Vernon to withdraw RCMP integrated services support to municipalities

Armstrong, Spallumcheen and Coldstream could be without RCMP support services shortly

Tired of subsidizing three municipalities to the tune of more than $300,000 per year, the City of Vernon has told Coldstream, Spallumcheen and Armstrong it will cease providing RCMP integrated support services to them as of July 1.

Support services include court liaison, crime analyst, detention facility, general investigation support, watch clerks and rescue managers.

“About a month ago, we sent out a letter to the jurisdictions giving them a drop-dead date of July 1, saying if they didn’t want to be part of an agreement, we will cease giving integrated services to them,” said Vernon Mayor Akbal Mund.

After a core review of city operations in 2012-13, Vernon council directed its administration to review the municipal employee component within the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment to ensure the allocation of funding was fair and equitable to Vernon, Coldstream, the province and, subsequently, Armstrong and Spallumcheen.

The review indicated the city was subsidizing the municipal employee component in the amount of about $300,000 per year. That represented a proportionate shortfall in contributions from the other three municipalities.

The RCMP vowed to look into the matter.

On July 6, 2016, the city received a letter from E Division (BC) headquarters advising the city that the matter was being returned to them and the local detachment head to work with the three municipalities to develop “a fair and equitable solution.”

The city came up with four options presented to the mayors and CAOs of Coldstream, Armstrong and Spallumcheen, as well as the RCMP, on proportionate costs for integrated support services, and it was believed one of the four options was favoured by all.

“We thought we were all under an agreement to move forward as of June of last year but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Mund. “People make their decisions, they can do that, that’s fine. As for Vernon, we’re making a decision that we’re tired of subsidizing $300,000 every year for the non-taxpayer of Vernon. I’m elected to look after the taxpayer of Vernon. That means I’m going to have to make some hard decisions, what’s best for Vernon.

“They don’t think they need to pay for those services anymore. That’s their decision. We will drop those integrated services and they can buy them from the province. They believe the province has told them they don’t need those services,” Munda said.

According to Vernon, should participating jurisdictions choose not to enter a shared funding agreement, the city may focus resources on providing adequate integrated and non-integrated services to the 56 Vernon-funded portions of the detachment.

“This will equate to a reduction of approximately four FTEs (staff positions) by Dec. 31, 2018,” said the city in a report to council.

Spallumcheen, Armstrong and Coldstream officials met with RCMP and solicitor general representatives Tuesday morning, then issued a joint release reacting to Vernon’s move:

“Mayor (Jim) Garlick, Mayor (Janice) Brown and Mayor (Chris) Pieper would like to assure the community members of the District of Coldstream, the Township of Spallumcheen and the City of Armstrong that RCMP services will continue unaffected by any discussions between the three communities and the City of Vernon.

“The three community leaders met with representatives from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General’s office of BC and leaders from RCMP services today regarding the provision of services and were assured there will be no impact to RCMP services.”

The City of Vernon was to have met with the RCMP: and solicitor general officials Tuesday afternoon.