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Councillor blasts police funding procedures

 City council voted unanimously in favour of helping to pay for a $110,000 upgrade to local RCMP detachment jail cells, but not without first expressing ire over how police funding works.

“It’s frustrating, because every time the RCMP in Ottawa decide something, they just send us a bill – there’s no consultation or discussion. But our taxpayers have to foot the bill,” said councillor Russ Hearne. “We should be involved in the decision-making process.
 
“A lot of the expenditures may be worthwhile, it’s just the principal of it. Policing has become our number-one expense, overtaking roads and sewers. We understand policing is necessary and important, but we need to control our costs, too.”
 
Hearne emphasized that his concern is in no way directed at the members serving here in Castlegar and the West Kootenay, “who are out there doing their jobs and doing them well.”
 
Hearne went on to applaud the B.C. government for not just signing a 20-year contract with the RCMP, as Alberta and Saskatchewan have done, to replace the current contract which expires in 2014.
 
“That contract is essentially a blank cheque,” he explained. “B.C. is looking for some accountability. Shirley Bond, the minister, is saying we want to have a voice in policing, which we don’t now – it’s all dictated federally.”
 
He said he doesn’t put much stock in what he calls the RCMP’s “ultimatum, essentially saying B.C. has to sign the contract or they’ll pull out”.
 
“When you have a police force of approximately 18,000, and 6,000 are in B.C., you aren’t going to just pull out,” he said. “Lay off a third of your workforce? I don’t think so.”