While the debate over implementing a regional police force for Metro Vancouver may continue for some time, it doesn't appear the discussion will get very far in the Tri-Cities.
Civic politicians from all three Tri-Cities met for a closed-door information session on the topic of regional policing Tuesday, but at least two of the mayors remain skeptical of the idea.
Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said he wants to see a complete regionalization of policing when it comes to joint teams like the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team IHIT, or some form of a hybrid of regional and local policing, but added he doesn't see a need for a regional police force to handle noise complaints.
He also questioned why Coquitlam would join a regional force when the city pays the lowest policing cost per capita in the province, and then suggested Vancouver wants to dump its policing costs on surrounding municipalities.
"Right now, I think the proposal is designed to have the suburbs subsidize Vancouver for its high police costs and I don't see that as helpful," Stewart told The NOW.
He argued so much has changed in the way policing is done since the Pickton case, yet politicians keep being asked to adjust the structure of policing based on the past.
"That's frustrating. We really need to have this discussion about policing from the point of view about what we can improve about today's police force," he said.
Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay also appeared unconvinced by the arguments in favour of a regional police force. He said the session only raised more questions, suggesting the conclusions from the missing women's report are subjective and that a regional force may not have solved the breakdown in policing that occurred.
Clay maintained the reason Metro Vancouver hasn't amalgamated into one city is the same reason why there isn't a regional police force - each municipality has different needs and desires. He also argued municipalities would probably just end up breaking away from the regional force at some point anyway.
Clay insisted residents in Port Moody have agreed to pay more for a municipal force because they want a department that has an intimate knowledge of the community, the people and geography.
"We want the level of service and the response that we're getting, and until someone shows me how we can maintain that, then I'm not compelled to look otherwise," Clay said.
In the meantime, PoCo's mayor said the session didn't help him make up his mind on the issue, nor was it meant to do so.
"It's an important issue of community safety for all of us," Moore said, noting neither he nor the city's council has taken an official position on regional policing.
"It's an expensive issue and it gets down to quality of life so we need to have a greater discussion on this very topic."
However, the mayor said a hybrid has "some good validity" but argued any model has to include more than just an integrated team for homicide and gangs.
Moore also suggested the problem with integrated teams like IHIT is there is no outside oversight.
"If tax dollars I'm collecting on behalf of our residents and businesses are being spent, we need to oversee how they're being spent," he said.
But Moore also offered a glimpse of just how divided municipalities across the Lower Mainland are on the issue.
He believes the only way a regional force would occur is if the province mandates it.