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Public consultation forgotten?

Posted on July 17, 2014 by Sunny South News

Dear Editor:

The Sunny News of July 8 and the Lethbridge Herald of July 5, we could read that town council in Coaldale has decided to change its policing contract.

For quite a few years now we have been served by the Lethbridge Regional Police Service. And I must say, served very well. And now, without any discussion or consultation with the Coaldale electorate, we learn this contract will be terminated and the town will enter into a new contract with the RCMP. And Mr. K. Hastings, the town’s acting CAO last week (July 8) is quoted as saying, “It’s difficult to give people a true option because there’s certain information that we are not at liberty to disclose at this time. Presently, all the information isn’t available for residents to make an informed choice. That’s part of the difficulty — when you’re dealing with a change of this magnitude.”

So, to be sure we understand — as a taxpayer in Coaldale, I am not asked for input because this change is of such great magnitude? And the facts are not yet all available, so how could I be asked for my opinion? But, the council had enough facts that they were able to make a decision. And this great change does not deter them at all. After all, we just elected them to a new four-year term and we elected them to make decisions. Why would we expect them to consult the public? So, why would council make this decision? And why would they do so without any public consultation?

Is it because we have all been complaining about the shoddy service we have been receiving from the LRPS?

In my travels through town I have not met or heard any complaints about the level of service. Is it the money? We are not sure.

We do not know what the cost will be with the RCMP. But when we speak with previous police commission members we are left with the clear impression the level of service delivered by the RCMP will be considerably less than the service we are receiving currently. I would strongly urge us to organise a public consultation on this issue. Let’s invite the mayor of Lethbridge, as well as the police chief to explain to us how policing works. And let’s invite the head of the RCMP to also come in and let us know what we might be able to expect from them. Why, let’s also invite a member of Coaldale council to lay out the little information they do have and perhaps we the rate-payer might understand how a change of this magnitude will impact us. I pay taxes in this town, and as a taxpayer, I am concerned about the safety of our town. Not so much for myself, but for my children and grandchildren. The crime rate has a direct impact on property values and on insurance rates. If all property values dropped by 10 per cent because of this decision, then we have a pretty big issue. Of much greater magnitude then this decision to change police services — public consultation.

That is what we need on this huge issue.

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