UNDER the gun, the district and city of North Vancouver signed a new 20-year contract with the RCMP this week, but still have concerns about ballooning costs.
"We realized that there was just absolutely no time for us to make a good, informed decision in regards to any other options or models, so we had to sign," said Darrell Mussatto, mayor of the City of North Vancouver.
The deal includes a twoyear opt-out clause.
While Mussatto signed the deal on Wednesday, District of North Vancouver Mayor Richard Walton still had not signed by late Friday afternoon.
"I'll likely sign it today and it will be couriered to Victoria by Tuesday," said Walton. "It's imminent."
The two North Vancouver municipalities were among several hold-outs, including Burnaby, Richmond and Port Coquitlam, that delayed signing the new contract. Justice Minister Shirley Bond had twice extended the deadline, with June 30 the final cut-off.
"They said you have to sign by that date or else," said Mussatto. "Else was that (the province) would take over running the RCMP, and they would then bill us for an administration fee for doing that."
The province would not say how much they would charge to manage the RCMP on behalf of the municipalities, said Mussatto.
While they are happy with the quality of policing the RCMP provides, the city and district of North Vancouver are concerned about several economic unknowns.
Ongoing court cases involving unionization and retroactive pay for RCMP members make labour costs an uncertainty. Services that are shared across municipalities are also expected to get more expensive. Integrated squads like the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which investigates crime across municipalities, and the new $1 billion RCMP headquarters being built in Surrey are two examples, said Mussatto.
Despite repeatedly asking for clarification from the provincial and federal governments, Walton said it was also still unclear how the two municipalities and the federal government would share costs in areas like First Nations policing.
Staff at the district of North Vancouver have calculated the policing budget will increase 30 per cent over the next five years. "That's six per cent a year, and that's without all of the unknowns in the contract," said Walton. "Well, six per cent is well beyond what we're looking at for municipal services. Most of us are coming in at the one or two per cent range."
The city and district of North Vancouver and the district of West Vancouver will hire a consultant to prepare a study on policing. The report will look at options like creating a single police force for all three communities, as well as keeping the status quo but finding areas where money can be saved.
Burnaby, Richmond, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and the city and district of North Vancouver will be starting a separate study to look at whether to stay with the RCMP.
"This is the largest single contract the city lets out every 20 years, and we want to do our due diligence on this," said Mussatto.