Posted on 11/28/2013, 11:12 am, by mySteinbach

Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen met with other mayors of Manitoba’s cities in Brandon yesterday and agreed public safety is one of the top priorities facing their communities.

According to Chair of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities Cities Caucus, City of Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen, the cost of policing is quickly becoming unmanageable for municipalities. Goertzen said “The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has studied this issue in depth and they found the costs for police services in Canada rose from $6.4 billion in 1999 to $12.3 billion in 2009, with municipalities paying for 60 per cent of this increase. This is simply unsustainable.”

The group agreed the reinstatement of the Police Officer Recruitment Fund is necessary to begin tackling this problem.

Other issues discussed during the meeting included the amount of time police must spend in courts, and the requirement for police to escort patients under the Mental Health Act. Both were identified as an insufficient use of police time.

But municipal policing costs were identified as the key concern. AMM President Doug Dobrowolski notes “rapidly rising policing costs are competing with the costs of the growing infrastructure deficit. Municipalities can’t choose one or the other.”

Manitoba municipalities need partnerships with other orders of government to address these and other public safety issues, according to Dobrowolski.

The AMM Cities Caucus meets twice annually to discuss issues of common concern. Members include mayors from Brandon, Dauphin, Flin Flon, Morden, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Thompson, Winkler and Winnipeg.