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Questions linger over police funding for rural communities
CALGARY -- Municipalities still have more questions than answers when it comes to the United Conservative Party’s changes to the police funding model.
The province was scheduled to make an announcement in Leduc County on Tuesday morning, but it has been cancelled.
Earlier in the fall, the NDP released a transcript of a webinar broadcast by Justice Department staff to municipal officials.
The details in the documents state some municipalities are being told they’ll have to pay between 15 and 70 per cent of policing costs, according to NDP Leader Rachel Notley. At the high end, that would average out to $406 per resident, per year.
The transcripts also show the UCP government is considering cuts to policing for rural municipalities with populations of 5,000 or fewer. Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of Alberta's population.
Some rural communities in Alberta were quick to react to that news.
In an open letter on Oct. 9, Lac Ste. Anne County penned its concerns with the proposed model stating, “it would create a considerable financial burden on resource-strapped municipalities," and adding that in the worst case scenario, Lac Ste. Anne County could have to pay an extra $1.4 million.
Wetaskiwin County penned a similar letter, saying its costs could be anywhere from $390,000 to $1.8 million.
At the time, Schweitzer told CTV News that no costs would be "downloaded."
"Any new funds that may be collected under a new model would be reinvested directly in additional frontline policing, leading to an overall increase in funding for police services in Alberta," he said in a written statement.
The minister also made stops around the province this fall as part of a Rural Crime Tour, meeting with residents, business owners and local governments to discuss their concerns.
The tour was intended to help the minister ensure a more responsive justice system.
The province currently spends nearly $223 million a year to cover the full cost of policing in small communities.