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More cuts earmarked as city continues budget deliberations

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Big changes could be coming to policing in Grande Prairie, as city council and a committee of the whole have approved, in principle, removing funding from Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams. Instead, it would be reallocated to the local detachment.

ALERT brings together multiple Canadian law enforcement organizations under one umbrella. Its work includes fighting gang activity, working against drug trafficking, and confronting domestic violence.

The amount moved from its local budget would be $480,000, which represents roughly three members. If approved in the final budget vote, those officers would be removed from ALERT and added into the charge of the Grande Prairie RCMP.

The debate Thursday at city hall surrounded what council believes to be in the best interest of residents. That includes addressing more local crimes, response times and what was described as the “perception of safety” for Grande Prairie residents.

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In all, the Grande Prairie ALERT unit consists of 14 officers, with nine of the positions funded by the province, and the remaining five currently funded by the city.

The proposal follows a number of approved adjustments to funding for services including the RCMP, the Grande Prairie Fire Department, and Bylaw Enforcement Services to the tune of $1.1 million discussed and debated on Wednesday.

City councillors have also sliced another $55,000 from the budget after approving, in principle, the elimination of a box office position at Revolution Place.

All proposed cuts now put the 2020 budget well over the $6 million in suggested adjustments to stay within the realm of a 1.5 per cent or lower property tax increase. Council will return to budget deliberations for a third and final day on Friday.

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