By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall town council is continuing to explore the possibility of using the Municipal District of Taber community peace officers within the town.
While administration has had a few conversations with the M.D. about what their partnership would look like, council still hasn’t signed off on any contract. During their regular meeting on July 17, councillors were given an update on where talks stood between the town and M.D.
“In talking with M.D. administration, they won’t be coming here directly from the office. They’ll be travelling through (town) so they won’t be charging us travel,” said CAO Cris Burns. “My understanding is, they would come in to do the enforcement side. Town staff would still be doing inspections and reporting things to the officers who would come into the office to receive them.”
Burns also stated that Kirk Hughes, Regional Enforcement Services sergeant, would report directly to council much like he does to M.D. of Taber council.
With staff still on the hook to complete some work in regard to bylaw, administration and council had some concerns.
One of them is adding too much onto the plates of their staff members, especially in terms of time spent on bylaw related work.
“If this is going to add time to our staff, I’d like a response on that and if we can handle the workload,” stated Coun. Ray Coad.
Administration wasn’t entirely sure how much time would be spent in that regard but they did have concerns with it conflicting with their other duties.
“The office staff have duties as it is. They have to take care of all the bylaw reading and ticket infractions then they have to contact the officers to enforce the ticket,” added Burns.
Another concern brought forward by council was in relation to specific wording in the memorandum of understanding.
Specifically, an issue was the lack of detail in how often they would be in Vauxhall and if they would be doing regular patrols and handing out tickets without staff bylaw investigations.
“It’s too silent, to me, on discretionary bylaw enforcement by the officer when they’re out here. It’s very clear hear if there is an issue within the bylaw, we have to take the complaint, do all of the work and they will then serve a notice but it’s silent on the rest of it. Are they going to be doing a routine patrol every once and awhile? If they see something non-compliant are they going to ticket it?” asked Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips. “I read this and it seems all they are going to do is serve notices.”
Phillips said he would want more clarification on what exactly the CPO’s would be doing if the contract was signed by council.
In terms of their memorandum of understanding, the contract would be for a period of six months which would start once the receipt of authorization to extend jurisdiction is agreed on with the Solicitor General.
The term could then be extended to up to three years if both the town and M.D. were in favour.
In terms of financials, the price was set at $75 an hour for the CPO’s services.
Council were fine with the price point as alternative sources would be higher than the mark set by the M.D.
“When I look at the $75 as an added expense that we currently don’t have, it’s still a lot less expensive than the RCMP,” said Coad, who was also in favour of the six-month contract. “A benefit is it’s a six-month contract. If it’s not going to work, it’s not going to work.”
Deputy Mayor Phillips was fairly confident the partnership between the town and M.D. would go smoothly and would potentially lead to a longer contract.
The only lingering question was working out exactly what the job description would be for the officers when they were in Vauxhall.
“The price is perfectly reasonable, in my mind, for a qualified person. The issue is what they are going to do under this,” said Phillips.