LETHBRIDGE – It was a decision that many in Coaldale were not 100 per cent sold on, but on Wednesday evening the RCMP and town council set out to put residents’ minds at ease with an open discussion about the new policing model for the town.
“My main goal is to make sure Coaldale residents feel safe,” said Marianne Ryan, commanding officer for RCMP K-Division. “Whatever we can do to get them to that point, that’s what we are committed to doing.”
In a population of over 7,000 people, Coaldale has more than 1,000 calls for policing services per year.
Lethbridge Regional Police currently has eight officers that work within the town. The new model, set to begin January 2016, will see seven RCMP officers and two support staff.
Mayor Kim Craig said residents will not see any additional costs for the new service.
“We believe that we’re not going to have a negative effect on the budget,” he said. “It will be a positive effect. We’re going to spend less dollars of our operating budget on policing.”
One of the main controversies surrounding the agreement was the lack of resident consultation. Craig explained the reason the public was not part of the conversation was because council wanted to avoid any negative dialogue about the transition.
“That kind of dialogue we felt was better around the council table then having a full robust dialogue about everything in public.”
A piece of new information that was shared with the public was the completion date for the new RCMP headquarters in the town. Officials expect it to be ready by 2018.