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Province sets aside nearly $10 million towards potential Grande Prairie police force transition costs

While no decision has been made that would see policing in Grande Prairie transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force will actually go forward, the province has promised millions in funding if that’s the direction taken by city council.

The provincial government has earmarked $9.7 million over the next two years to help cover more than half of the approximately $19 million in transition costs for the municipality. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis says the Alberta government is ready to support Grande Prairie as the city continues to mull over changes to policing and public safety.

“Having a community-led and focused police service will ensure Grande Prairie is finding unique solutions that will better serve their region,” he adds.

Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says the discussion on policing will continue in a couple of weeks, but is happy to see proactive support for the potential change.

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“This initial funding gives us confidence that the province will support the City of Grande Prairie should council decide on March 6 to proceed with a municipal police service model,” she adds.

On Tuesday, members of Council and Committee of the Whole voted to send the transition debate to a full meeting of council, during which they will decide which direction to take. The city says the annual operating budget of the municipal police service is projected to be similar to or less than that of the projected RCMP contract budget.

In addition to projected financial similarities, the belief is the new force will, among other things, create stronger public safety infrastructure and development. This includes, according to the municipality, an Integrated Public Safety Communications Centre, a real-time 24 hour operations centre, and specialized policing in the form of a local emergency response team.

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