Nanaimo ratifies RCMP agreement

The Mounties will continue to be Nanaimo's police force until at least 2032.

The province signed a new contract with the RCMP on March 21, opening the door for municipalities to ratify their own agreements. Nanaimo council ratified the Nanaimo Municipal Police Unit Agreement Monday.

Cities that don't approve the deal by the end of April effectively give two-year notice to withdraw from RCMP services. Cities that approve the agreement can still opt out with two-year notice, and a review of the contract is promised every five years.

Prior to Monday's vote, Coun. Jim Kipp noted council's approval amounted to more than a $400-million commitment for taxpayers over the term of the 20-year contract.

"That's a lot of money," said Kipp. "But I believe the RCMP give us good value."

Mayor John Ruttan said he feels the RCMP is worth the cost, and that a municipal force was discussed and dismissed.

The importance of police services in the 2012 budget is evident – it takes up $24 million of the city's total $118 million in operating costs. That money pays for 140 RCMP officers, as well as 75 support staff.

The new contract is estimated to increase the city's policing costs by $121,000 this year, which doesn't include a pay increase announced by the federal government last week, or the costs resulting of a court case between the RCMP and Ottawa for back pay to 2009 after a promised pay increase was rescinded.

Brian Clemens, the city's finance director, said the city is prepared for both the pay increase, and, if the courts decide in favour of the RCMP, back pay.

"We have $1.25 million in reserve in anticipation," said Clemens.

The pay increase is expected to be about 1.5 per cent for 2012-2014 and was included in the Nanaimo RCMP detachment's cost estimate for the year.

It is not certain when the court case may be resolved.

Nanaimo has the largest RCMP detachment on Vancouver Island and has been served by the RCMP since 1950 when the federal force took over for the B.C. Provincial Police, which provided law enforcement in Nanaimo since 1926.

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