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Beefing up RCMP in Langley would cost millions

Proposal would add 12 officers to combined 210-member force
Langley City RCMP officer on scene of a hazmat call in July 2019 at 201st Street near Michaud Crescent. A proposal to add six officers to the City and another six to the Township is before the respective municipalities. (Langley Advance Times file)

Langley RCMP Supt. Adrian Marsden wants to add 12 officers – six in Langley City and six in the Township – to the combined force of 210 on duty in both communities.

Currently, Langley City funds the equivalent of 55 officers.

A report to Langley City council, by director of corporate services Darrin Leite, estimates the added expense for the smaller municipality would be $1.3 million, bringing its annual policing bill to nearly $14 million.

Leite explained the new officers wouldn’t arrive until the 2023/2024 budget cycle, but a request for approval in principle was coming now because 10 per cent of the cost will be covered by the federal Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, which needs to know how much will be needed for planning purposes.

“They have their planning process before we do,” Leite remarked.

Giving preliminary approval to the increase “does not represent a final commitment on the part of the City,” he advised.

Through a cost-sharing agreement, Ottawa covers 10 per cent of policing costs in jurisdictions that opt for RCMP forces. In communities of less than 15,000, the contribution rises to 30 per cent.

READ ALSO: Report out on who made what at Langley City

At their June 13 meeting, a majority of council opted to postpone a decision in order to meet with Supt. Marsden to discuss the proposal.

Councillor Nathan Pachal, who proposed the delay, said he “felt a little bit shocked.”

“This is the first time that I’ve heard any indication about wanting to increase our detachment strength by six,” Pachal remarked.

Pachal called the $1.3 million cost of the additional officers “a significant dollar amount” equivalent to almost a four per cent property tax increase — money that he estimated could help pay for other things, such as a “24/7 bylaw department” and a performing arts centre.

Marsden was scheduled to present a business case for the additional officers, but Mayor Val van den Broek wanted something more detailed.

“I would like to see it written out in stone, quite honestly” van den Broek remarked.

“It’s costing us nearly $14 million to police four square miles,” Coun. Gayle Martin commented.

Langley Advance Times has reached out to the Township for information about the financial impact of the new officers.

READ ALSO: Rising cost of policing cited as factor in proposed four per cent Langley City tax hike

The proposed increase comes after a $1.3 million increase in RCMP costs for the City earlier this year, the result of a first-time union contract for RCMP officers, a six-year deal providing a 1.75-per-cent annual increase retroactive to 2017. Combined with an 11.5-per-cent market adjustment, RCMP wages will increase 23.8 per cent by the end of 2022.

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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