The City of Lacombe is calling on former NDP premier Rachel Notley to clarify a statement she made in the legislature.
Mayor Grant Creasey, along with City of Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam and City of Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita have written a letter to Notley regarding each municipality’s stance on rural policing.
“We read with dismay the hansard of Oct. 15, in which you said in the legislature ‘he (Premier Jason Kenney) can deny it all he wants, but the communities of Brooks, Wetaskiwin, Barrhead, Sundre, Foothills and Lacombe all oppose the plan (to cut rural police funding),’ when in fact, this is not the case,” the letter states.
— Rachel Notley (@RachelNotley) October 15, 2019
Thursday, Creasey said it’s possible Notley was referring to Lacombe County and Wetaskiwin County.
But the way the statement was made, implies it is the City of Brooks, the City of Lacombe and the City of Wetaskiwin, said Creasey.
To avoid any confusion, the mayors jointly drafted the letter requesting clarification.
“Misrepresenting our views for political theatre is dishonest and unbecoming of any member of the provincial legislative assembly,” the letter goes on to say.
Late Thursday afternoon, Notley told The Advocate she intended to refer to concerns from “counties,” but misspoke and said “communities.”
Notley’s comments in the legislature were in response to the province’s proposal to require small communities and rural municipalities to pick up a share of policing costs, ranging from 15 to 70 per cent.
Communities under 5,000 people and counties and municipal districts have not previously been required to pay for policing.
The NDP government did not respond to The Advocate’s request for an interview.
The letter states the three cities believe all municipalities, including counties, must bear a portion of the costs for police service.
Municipalities were irked that the proposal — at least initially — came with no commitment it would mean additional police coverage.
Lacombe County Reeve Paula Law recently pointed out most RCMP detachments are understaffed as it is.
“How can we have expectations of paying for something that’s not there now?” she said at a recently council meeting.
Lacombe County, along with Red Deer and Ponoka counties, are among Alberta municipalities that have already beefed up policing at their own expense.
Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer recently said the government made a commitment to consult on the police funding model that he said became broken under the NDP.
“We are investing more in policing, not less,” he said.
Schweitzer has pledged to hire an additional 500 RCMP officers, specifically dedicated to rural areas.
Those who wish to have a say can take a survey at alberta.ca/rural-crime until Oct. 31.