Towns, county will no longer have employee at Beaverlodge RCMP detachment

·3 min read

West county communities will no longer have a municipal employee (ME) at the Beaverlodge RCMP detachment.

To date, four of five partnering municipalities are withdrawing funding for the position.

Beaverlodge, Wembley, Hythe, County of Grande Prairie and Horse Lake First Nation entered into an agreement to provide financial support for an administrative clerk at the detachment more than 10 years ago.

Beaverlodge council voted during Monday’s meeting to not renew the agreement, after the county, Wembley and Hythe councils also voted against renewing.

“We can’t go it alone (in funding),” mayor Gary Rycroft said during Monday’s meeting.

He noted Beaverlodge is already being saddled with significant additional RCMP expenses under the new provincial funding model: $48,871 in 2020 and $73,358 in 2021.

“The (ME) contract expires Dec. 15, which is why we’re putting contingencies in place in the eventuality that the (position) does or doesn’t continue,” said Sgt. Ash Browne, Beaverlodge RCMP detachment commander.

“If it doesn’t continue, with the increase of members we’ve had over the past year, we’ll aim to have zero break in service provided.”

Browne described the ME as a “100 per cent administrative role,” with the current ME being Heather Hogg.

The ME works out of the detachment and reports to the detachment commander, he said.

“A gap was identified a number of years ago … that RCMP members were spending a lot of their shift time doing data entry and administrative duties,” Browne said.

“An admin position allowed members to be out on the road doing crime reduction activity.”

An important function of the ME was to send out crime stats to the municipalities, and he said if the position is eliminated that responsibility will fall on him.

Browne still intends to give quarterly updates on RCMP activities to west county councils, he told Town & Country News.

The ME is an employee of the Town of Beaverlodge, with the town invoicing its partnering municipalities to split the expense, he said.

The cost of the position is $60,258 in salary and benefits; divided between five municipalities, this is $12,052, according to county administration. Fewer funding partners would mean a municipality would need to increase its contribution if it wished to continue supporting the position.

According to county administration, during recent meetings some municipal leaders indicated they wouldn’t renew the ME agreement.

Factors in these discussions included that the new provincial funding model will require municipalities contribute more to policing.

Another factor was the RCMP getting another provincially funded administrative position in the near future, according to Beaverlodge administration.

In the past year, Browne said the Beaverlodge Detachment has grown from having six to nine constables with three administrative positions, including the ME.

With another administrative position expected to be created hopefully by mid-December, he said the detachment will have three administrative staff even if the ME is eliminated.

During Monday’s meeting, Browne told Beaverlodge council the current ME may be moved into another casual “public servant” position.

County reeve Leanne Beaupre told the News last week the ME agreement predated county council’s decision to fund two new enhanced members for the Beaverlodge Detachment.

County council felt it was contributing to the detachment and administration recommended not renewing the ME agreement, she said.

Browne said he’s still waiting on Horse Lake’s decision.

During Monday’s council meeting Beaverlodge Coun. Hugh Graw’s motion to not renew the agreement was carried.

Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News