Debates benefits of provincial police force

Written by Stu Salkeld

Alix village council debated the pros and cons of the provincial government’s proposal to replace the RCMP with an Alberta police force, and it seemed there were more cons than pros.

The discussion occurred at the May 4 regular meeting.

In the correspondence part of their agenda was a letter from the National Police Federation (NPF), the RCMP’s bargaining unit, which included the results of a public consultation the NFP conducted in Alberta over the winter.

“Through the NFP’s Community engagement sessions and online surveys with Albertans we heard loud and clear that the majority do not want a new police service,” stated the report’s executive summary.

The summary went on to state that the majority of respondents told the NFP they’d prefer to see any efforts by the provincial government instead of focused on improving the justice system, strengthening social services and increasing police resources.

“Participants felt that these targeted investments would bring better and more immediate results to address crime within communities,” stated the NFP’s report.

Coun. Ed Cole, who often describes himself as a retired RCMP officer, stated a provincial police force would mean Alberta loses over $100 million a year in federal funding, and further noted even the Alberta government admits only about 15 per cent of current RCMP working in Alberta would join the new force.

Cole noted thousands of new police officers would have to be recruited and trained, adding that there is no training facility in Alberta.

“How anyone can say this is going to be cheaper…,” said Cole.

Coun. Tim Besuijen responded, “It’s almost like there’s something else behind this.”

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White noted it appears 2,100 police officers would have to be recruited, and many of those could be brand new recruits with little or no experience.

White added that the province has suggested those new recruits could come from within their own communities but no plan has yet been released on how those people will be recruited.

Councillors also discussed the issue of family members, friends and neighbours becoming police officers in their home communities.

White also wondered how the transition period between RCMP coverage and new police force coverage would be handled.

Councillors accepted the report for information.

Fire department report
Coucillors read the regular quarterly report of Regional Fire Chief Drayton Bussiere, who noted the Alix department had engaged in substantial training recently and he was very proud of their work.

Councillors looked at the fire department numbers for the period of January 2022 to March 2022 and noted their fire department had 43 call-outs that added up to 220 hours and 23 minutes.

The CAO noted that the number of callouts is about average, but the amount of time Alix firefighters spent on the calls is “higher than expected.”

The report stated that three motor vehicle collisions required 44 hours of work from the Alix firefighters. It was also stated the Alix department responded to 24 calls within the village boundaries.

White stated she likes to point out how dedicated Alix firefighters are. Councillors accepted the report for information.

Right of Way
Councillors unanimously agreed to update right-of-way (ROW) agreements with Fortis Alberta as the company plans upgrades to its power line network.

White explained the village has one ROW agreement on municipal reserve within Pheasant Trail while another is located on the village’s lagoon property.

The lagoon site, while village property, is not located within the village’s boundaries; it’s actually located within Lacombe County.

Stu Salkeld
Local journalism initiative reporter
ECA Review


About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.