SHELBURNE COUNTY, N.S. – The towns of Shelburne and Lockeport and the Municipality of Shelburne will be meeting on Wednesday, March 14 at the Community Centre in Shelburne at 6:30 p.m. to discuss options for a shared policing service for the three municipal units in eastern Shelburne County.
The meeting is in response to a request from the local RCMP Advisory Board, of which the three municipal units are members, asking the councils to hold a joint meeting to explore options for policing as a shared service. It is also the latest development in the quest by the Town of Shelburne to reduce annual policing costs, which were budgeted at $736,970 for the fiscal year ending March 31.
With a Shelburne town population of just 1,743, residents pay an average of $422.82 or $887.92 per household for policing services, almost three times more than residents of the neighbouring municipality, even though both are served by the same RCMP detachment.
The Town of Shelburne “started seriously looking at the issue under the previous council in 2013,” says Dylan Heide, the town’s chief administrative officer in a press release. In 2013 town council wrote to the federal government seeking a reduction in RCMP members to reduce skyrocketing costs. In 2015 that request was rejected by the government.
“The reason they gave was that the local RCMP detachment couldn’t effectively serve the adjacent municipality with less members,” said Heide. “The town council didn’t disagree, they’re just trying to ensure all residents pay a fair share for the same service.”
Shelburne town council has been considering a proposal for the provision of police services from the Town of Bridgewater police force, which would save the town approximately $100,000 a year and is one of several options currently being explored.
“In addition to conversations with Bridgewater the town has also reached out to the Nova Scotia minister of justice and the RCMP,” said Heide last week. “We’ve been given an indication that we may receive a proposal from the RCMP by March 13.”
Shelburne Mayor Karen Mattatall said it’s all about fairness.
“What we are looking for is a sustainable service,” said Mattatall. “Town residents cannot afford to subsidize their municipal neighbours. The median household income in the town, according to the last census, is less than $46,000 a year, that’s over $10,000 less than in the municipality. Why should our residents pay three times the cost for the same policing by the RCMP detachment we all share?
“The town council has made reducing policing costs a priority because we believe our residents deserve a fair deal,” said the mayor. “We’ve been very open with our residents about the proposal from Bridgewater and will continue to ensure residents are informed should other options be put on the table.”