The RCMP will remain the main police force in Coquitlam, Anmore and Belcarra after Coquitlam city council renewed the Municipal Police Unit Agreement during a council meeting Monday.
Mayor Richard Stewart, who indicated early on he was ready to sign the 20-year deal, is pleased council has finally moved forward with the issue.
"In the end, the RCMP is the right police for us at this stage in our community," said Stewart. "[This contract] is better than the last. We solved some of the issues that were serious challenges in the last contract. We haven't solved them all, but it's much more workable for local governments to manage their RCMP detachments."
Under the new agreement, the province and municipal governments will have greater input into how the RCMP spends money, how its operations are structured and who is appointed to senior management positions.
Despite making improvements to accountability, affordability and governance issues, many councillors signed with a heavy hand, adding they feel bullied into approving the contract.
"I feel like I don't have a choice - I don't like being forced into a corner, but I have been," said Coun. Selina Robinson, noting that many outstanding questions remain unanswered.
"There are still many questions that I have and I feel like this is a huge debt load that we're incurring over the next 20 years for our citizens," said Coun. Mae Reid.
"Time will tell if this is the best deal that we can get."
However, Coun. Brent Asmundson stressed that numerous improvements have been made to the contract and the city should test-drive it before opting out.
"The three areas that were the most critical [were] accountability and transparency, affordability and cost containment, and governance.
Those were addressed in the new contract," said Asmundson. "I want to - see how those functions operate and run in this contract [first]."
After a lengthy discussion, eight councillors voted in favour of the contract. Lou Sekora was the only councillor to vote against it.
The RCMP also released a three-year strategic plan specifically for the Coquitlam detachment, offering solutions to accountability issues and promising a more "high functioning, healthy organization," that the city praised at an earlier meeting.
"It's the most efficient method of policing," said Stewart.
"We've analyzed the other options. It saved us a lot of money and we're getting good results - I think Coquitlam is well served by the RCMP."
The city can still opt out of the contract without being penalized as long as it provides a 25-month notice provision.
The RCMP has been the centre of controversy in recent months, following the expiration of the previous 20-year agreement on March 31 and the announcement that the new agreement would include unexpected wage increases for Mounties.
Other cities yet to sign on, including Burnaby, Langley, North Vancouver and Richmond, are all expected to ink the deal in coming days. Port Coquitlam is expected to sign on next week.
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