Township of Langley, B.C., votes to stop sharing RCMP services with City of Langley
May 10, 2023 By The Canadian Press
May 10, 2023, Langley, B.C. – The council for the Metro Vancouver Township of Langley, B.C., has voted for a plan to have its own RCMP detachment in a separation that the mayor says is over unfair costs.
The township currently shares the force with the City of Langley, but township Mayor Eric Woodward says the goal of a dedicated detachment is to improve services for its community, which is much larger geographically and growing at a faster rate than its neighbour.
The Township of Langley covers about 300 square kilometres and has a population nearing 150,000. The City of Langley has a population less than 30,000 over 10 square kilometres.
Woodward estimates the township will have 220,000 people by 2040, compared with the city’s 40,000.
“And so how do we scale up policing for our larger growing municipality when we’re sharing those resources with another municipality?” he said.
“We need to get our policing resources focused and serving our residents and taxpayers.”
Woodward said the township funds about three-quarters of the RCMP officers in the current detachment and has paid for 33 new officers over a dozen or so years, compared with one hired by the city.
Langley City Mayor Nathan Pachal said Wednesday that the two sides have a contract that lays out how the cost of policing is divided.
He said the process of splitting the detachment is long and complicated.
“The provincial government will, once we’ve gone through this, also need to be fully satisfied that there will be adequate policing in both communities at the end of this,” he said.
“And during the transition, I know, we still need to maintain adequate policing.”
In the legislature Wednesday, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the township’s vote is a first step and they’ll have to present a plan that works in both communities.
The township’s plans come as the RCMP faces recruitment challenges in B.C.
Last month, Farnworth recommended the City of Surrey proceed with its transition to a municipal police service rather than return to the RCMP. He said the decision was based on ensuring public safety in Surrey and across the province because of 1,500 vacancies at the RCMP in the province.
A statement from Supt. Adrian Marsden, the officer in charge at the Langley detachment, said while they are consulted and are responsible for internal management of policing operations, the delivery model is between the contract partners and the provincial government.
“Ultimately, the RCMP’s priority is public safety,” the statement said, adding that it would work with both the city and the district to ensure public safety needs are met through the process.
Pachal said the city will be holding “citizen assemblies” to discuss how to manage issues like mental health calls and other social challenges police currently handle.
“Policing is our No. 1 expense, and police will always be part of the equation, but we know that there are policing resources that are going to things that are not really police (related),” he said.
“So, if we can reallocate over time the work that the police do to the policing matters in our community, and we can solve some of the upstream challenges, that’s going to be a benefit for policing and that’s going to be a benefit for our community.”
Both mayors say it is too soon to say how much the split would cost.
Woodward says there’s already an agreement in place for the township to buy out the city’s share of the police station at what he says is a “very reasonable cost.”
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