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LETTER: Pitt Meadows can’t afford its own RCMP detachment

Local resident lays out several arguments against a costly new facility

Dear Editor,

The premature and frankly ‘not based on fact’ victory lap that Mayor Dingwall and council are taking regarding the removal of parkland (yes, mature trees, grass, walk ways, a section of the baseball diamond, all the viewing stands and the Art Gallery currently not outlined in yellow on the plan all gone) to make room for their as yet unapproved RCMP detachment is a bitter pill for those in our small city who find this level of spending excessive, and a need that is less than palpable.

And no, Mayor Dingwall, we are not ‘repatriating’ the RCMP to Pitt Meadows. They have never had a full detachment here, only the satellite detachment/office which is the Community Police Office.

First the mayor claimed overwhelming support in February 2020 (remember the start of the COVID lockdown?) when only about a hundred individuals attended (no data from the city on how many people signed carte blanche approval for the plan for our own Detachment). Now they are likewise claiming ‘comparatively small opposition’ ie vast public endorsement for the site of a new RCMP Detachment (this is not ‘an office’, it is an entire building built to RCMP specifications and there is a long, expensive list) that will front a large portion of Harris Road at McMyn.

The Amendment Bylaw process favoured the city distinctly in that non-awareness/participation meant an automatic ‘yes’.

I will bet any amount if the process needed a physical vote of yes to go forward under the same percentage guidelines, we would have all had voting forms mailed to us along with reasons for the process.

Only a very small portion of residents were aware of the proposal for an RCMP detachment, and likewise very few were aware of the recent Park Bylaw Amendment procedure (even though this is a major zoning change on Harris, there is no zoning change signage on site to alert residents to the process underway).

A small bit of social media advertising was used to make the public aware of this rezoning, and the city website required both familiarity with downloading the document, signing it physically (e-signature was not permitted), scan and email or printing (not everyone has a printer), and mailing or dropping it off at the city front desk by a specified date and time. No, not everyone in Pitt is computer literate, has the equipment, etc.

With all due respect, this is slipping a multi-million dollar legacy project under the radar of citizens scared to death of COVID, and whose single laser focused attention since February 2020 has been on survival and navigating the horrors of COVID.

The mind boggles to think our elected government believes that all of Pitt Meadows paid attention to a scant amount of ‘advertising’ that the city put forward on what will be as seismic a shift in our financial landscape as taxpayers, as we have seen in decades.

What about the spending we will endure for the CP underpass/overpasses (yes, we are going to have infrastructure costs for this like pumping facilities). What about the poor repair of city hall and the sudden realization (wait for it in 2022/23) that we need a brand new city hall?

How about many of the city’s other public assets that need repair and replacement? What about the multi-million dollar indoor aquatic centre so many have been keen on?

Where are all these multi-millions being generated?

Vandalism and petty crime are now worth an investment in great excess of $18M plus significant costs on yearly on upkeep, salaries, and side contracts with RMeadows RCMP ie: if we cannot endure the significant costs of an 11 cell minimum jail in the detachment.

Neighbouring Port Coquitlam stepped aside from seeking their own detachment (they share with Coquitlam) due to the costs (I heard in excess of $30M) and the high increases in residential and business taxation that would come out of splintering off from Coquitlam RCMP.

And PoCo has a huge industrial tax base as well as significant business and residential.

Is this what Pitt Meadows residents are prepared to pay for?

I encourage everyone to write council, read the full report the consultant submitted, and if you don’t agree, further write to E Division and the Solicitor General of B.C.

This is not about safety, this is about a legacy project.

We are, and can improve on, how our agreement with Ridge Meadows RCMP benefits us. Our own detachment is not a panacea for every bit of vandalism and homeless wandering that will come up.

Unfortunately our mayor has now declined further communication on this subject with many residents “…we do not agree with you”.

I didn’t know democracy was about total agreement with the elected government.

Time for a petition.

Darlene Mercer, Pitt Meadows


• READ MORE: Pitt Meadows secures site on Harris Road for new detachment

• LETTER: Don’t let Harris Road Park be changed forever

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