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Mounties, Town of Canmore in talks over new RCMP detachment building

As a detachment run under a Municipal Police Service Agreement, the Town of Canmore would be responsible for the costs of construction.
20210805 Canmore RCMP 0010

CANMORE – The Mounties always get their man, but Canmore RCMP are also hoping for a new detachment building.

The Town of Canmore and the RCMP met April 29 for preliminary discussions on what next steps could look like in the RCMP’s bid to replace the aging and small detachment on Elk Run Boulevard.

RCMP assistant commissioner Trevor Daroux said the lifespan of RCMP detachments is typically about 40 years, noting the Canmore building is approaching that milestone.

“This brings to light the necessity of reassessing the infrastructure to ensure it continues to meet the needs of our officers and the community they serve,” said Daroux in a letter to the Town of Canmore.

“I would like to propose that RCMP Property Management, in conjunction with RCMP Operations Strategy Branch, engage with the Town of Canmore to explore the feasibility of constructing a new detachment.”

The Canmore detachment, which serves Canmore, Dead Man’s Flats, Exshaw, Harvie Heights, Lac des Arcs and Seebe, has 24 members; however, like most detachments, it seldom runs at full complement due to police officers being on leave for varying reasons.

As a detachment run under a Municipal Police Service Agreement (MPSA), Daroux said the Town of Canmore will be responsible for the costs of construction.

“However, our intention is to work in partnership with the Town, as we would with any community that expresses similar needs or concerns,” he said.

Whitney Smithers, general manager of municipal infrastructure for the Town of Canmore, said discussions with the RCMP are in the early stages and options for consideration at this point are “pretty wide open.”

She said discussions at the April 29 meeting centred on some of the opportunities or challenges from the municipality’s perspective, such as identifying a site, or potentially co-locating services with the RCMP.

The Town of Canmore is trying to understand the RCMP’s space requirements and timelines, said Smithers.

“We are going to continue to meet throughout the year and start to converge on what are some viable options,” she said.

A 2019 report looked at a series of sites for the new fire hall, now located along Palliser Trail, some of which could also be options to consider for a new RCMP detachment.

The current RCMP detachment is located on federally-owned land, but Smithers said that site would be challenging for a rebuild because it is so small.

“The bigger challenge, and this is one that came up definitely at our meeting last week, is even if we did choose to redevelop that site, we pretty much have to build a new detachment in the interim,” she said.

“We just can’t stop having an RCMP detachment.”

Under the MPSA, the Town of Canmore is responsible for 90 per cent of Canmore RCMP policing costs, with the federal government picking up the other 10 per cent of the tab.

This is based on a population threshold of more than 15,000, and according to the 2021 census, Canmore’s permanent population is 15,990. When the police detachment was built, the population was fewer than 5,000 people.

A concept plan for a new RCMP facility is forecasted in the Town's 2023-28 budget and business plan at $200,000 in 2028, but nothing has been approved by council.

Smithers said the municipality was aware a request for a new detachment would be on the radar for future years, but dollars couldn’t be included in the capital budget until there was an official request by the RCMP.

“Now that we’ve got that request, I expect that we’ll be putting in at least the conceptual design, and the more detailed design in that six-year capital plan that we’d be bringing forward to council for approval at the end of this year,” she said.

“What we would look at is generating a series of options that could address locations, that could address site layout and then explore the possibility for co-location within those options … there are a bunch of permutations for how this could look.”

In 2021, the Town paid a net amount of $2.04 million for policing. It increased to $2.83 million in 2022 and was $3.31 million last year. It is budgeted at $3.82 million this year.

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