NEWS

Make regional policing an election issue, says Vancouver mayor

01/22/2013 03:25 EST | Updated 03/24/2013 05:12 EDT
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says he's willing to make the fight for a Metro Vancouver police force a provincial election issue.

Robertson has been on record supporting the idea since at least 2009, but he told the Vancouver Police Board on Tuesday that he thinks the upcoming provincial election in May could be a chance to "break the log jam" on the issue.

He was backed by Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu, who said he also supported amalgamating the patchwork of RCMP detachments and municipal police forces that police Metro Vancouver into one large regional force.

Their comments followed a report released on Monday by Chu that endorsed the proposal, which was one of the 63 recommendations made by Commissioner Wally Oppal in his final report from the Missing Women Inquiry last year.

"We owe it to the missing and murdered women to at least consider a Metro Vancouver police force," said Robertson.

Surrey mayor prefers 2-tier policing

The idea has already been rejected by several other regional mayors, including Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.

Watt says she likes the current model in her city with the RCMP serving as the main force, while working with several regional and provincial integrated units for investigations into major crimes.

"I'm in favour of two-tier policing," said Watts, referring to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, which targets organized crime.

"The regional element is bringing everybody together and making sure everybody is participating and it's around the model as opposed to who wears what uniform.

"I think in terms of the serious issues we deal with, such as the gangs and murders and all of that, it has to be regional in nature."

And the idea also failed to get much support from Premier Christy Clark, who was speaking elsewhere in Vancouver on Tuesday morning.

"We're prepared to have a conversation about it, but it is not just a provincial jurisdiction," said Clark.

"There is a huge diversity of opinion amongst local mayors who foot the bill, the large part of the bill for policing in our province."

No support in West Vancouver

The mayors of Richmond, Delta and Port Moody have also spoken out against the idea.

West Vancouver Mayor Michael Smith says the idea of replacing his district's municipal force with a regional force may not go over well with his voters.

"Our citizens are very happy with our own local force," said Smith.

But Smith says he would be interested in discussing the idea of a North Shore police force if the city and district of North Vancouver decide to end their contracts with the RCMP.

MORE:cbcNews