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Fort Macleod opposed to provincial police force

Fort Macleod is adding its voice to growing opposition to plans to create an Alberta provincial police force.

Council voted March 8 to voice its opposition in a letter to Solicitor General Kaycee Madu and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA).

That decision followed review of a letter from Crowsnest Pass Mayor Blair Painter.

Painter’s letter, which was on the agenda of council’s March 8 meeting at the G.R. Davis Administration Building, expressed his council’s opposition to replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force.

Painter noted a survey by the government’s own Fair Deal Panel showed 65 per cent of Albertans opposed a provincial police force.

“These are tangible results from a provincial survey which need to be recognized by the province as a negative response,” Painter wrote.

Painter suggested the cost of implementing a provincial police force should be a sufficient deterrent for the government.

“Municipalities across this province are struggling to determine how they will absorb the costs for the existing police funding model and should not be expected to consider facing additional expenses for an initiative that is unwanted and appears to have no ceiling where potential costs are concerned,” Painter wrote.

Painter added the Crowsnest Pass is pleased with service from the local RCMP detachment.

“We respectfully request that you reconsider replacing the RCMP with an Alberta provincial police force and consider working with the RCMP to improve the service where required,” Painter concluded.

Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan and Coun. Werner Dressler took part in two AUMA summits on policing over the past month.

“There’s a lot of concern from municipalities,” Keenan said. “I’m a little concerned about this too.”

Keenan said it appears the government has decided it will move toward establishing a provincial police force.

Keenan also felt like the AUMA, of which Fort Macleod is a member, is also pushing that agenda.

“It’s my belief, as your CAO, that is definitely not the direction I believe we should be heading in,” Keenan said.

Keenan suggested council send a letter to the solicitor general echoing similar concerns the Crowsnest Pass mayor outlined in his letter.

Dressler said Solicitor General Kaycee Madu did not include costs such as building facilities, training and hiring in support of a plan to establish a provincial police force.

“I was quite shocked the provincial government would actually lean to that,” Dressler said of a provincial police force. “I do not look at this as positive for the province of Alberta, especially if they want to ramrod this quickly.”