Burnaby is the first B.C. municipality to publicly announce that it will not sign off on the province's 20-year RCMP contract with the federal government before next week's May 31 deadline.
"We're not going to be signing off before the deadline," said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan. "Other cities may also not sign off, but we're seriously looking at our policing options going forward."
The province had originally set April 30 as its preferred deadline for the 62 municipalities to sign off on the deal, but extended that to May 31 last month.
Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, who was the civic observer in negotiating the new policing contract, said 39 municipalities had signed off as of Thursday morning, with more coming in the next week as municipalities get back to their normal business after the long weekend.
Corrigan said Burnaby is looking at the alternatives of its own police force, a provincial force or even working in a policing partnership with neighbouring municipalities.
"We are seriously looking at any and all alternatives," said Corrigan.
Corrigan added that the citizens of Burnaby won't notice any change to policing in the city because of the city not signing off on the deal.
Corrigan said the key issues for him in not signing off on the deal are the municipalities having little say in costs and almost no cost certainty on many big issues.
For example, Corrigan said the proposed new RCMP building in the Green Timbers area of Surrey may cost in the neighbourhood of $1.2 billion, and the municipalities were initially told they wouldn't have to pay for that cost.
"We're then told by Peter Fassbender that we will have to pay for that building, but he can't tell us how much," said Corrigan. "Why can't we get an answer on a question like that?"
Corrigan had told the Burnaby NOW last month that he felt no pressure to sign off on the deal before the province's deadline.
"We don't care if the province wants the deal ratified by (a certain date)," said Corrigan. "The resolution of the unresolved issues is much more important."
Corrigan said that the provinces also got a very good deal in negotiating a 70-30 split on the costs of integrated units, but that was at the expense of the municipalities, who will be paying for a larger chunk of the costs.
"In the agreement, the provinces get what they want resolved, and the municipalities are observers. - And our observer is Peter Fassbender, who's chosen by the RCMP. - He took his job very seriously. He observed. His contributions were almost non-existent other than to simply applaud and support the RCMP.
"He didn't ask the tough questions." Fassbender told the Burnaby NOW on Thursday morning that while he doesn't agree with municipalities not signing off on the deal, he believes that it is their right.
"As I've said to all the mayors, they have a choice," said Fassbender. "If they choose not to sign, they may have to look at alternative policing models. I don't know if this is a political tactic, but I disagree with them."
Fassbender said Corrigan's request to get certainty on costs and controls is a key sticking point.
"All those questions have been answered as best as we can at this point," said Fassbender. "Some people want answers to questions that can't be answered right now. Those answers will take time and will take place once we start working under the new contract."
Fassbender admitted that he and Corrigan have different viewpoints on issues.
"Derek has chewed my ear out on a number of occasions," said Fassbender. "Derek and I don't see eye-to-eye on many things. - I'd say that Derek is more of a critic, and I'm more of a person who tries to build bridges.
"Derek is very political. I've heard him say that I'm a lap dog of the provincial government. He's entitled to his opinion, but where I differ is I won't bully people, I won't intimidate people. - Derek has his point of view, and while I disagree with him, he's entitled to his opinion. He's elected just like I am, and while he comes from a larger municipality than I do, that doesn't make him the king of the Lower Mainland."
Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan is the NDP's public safety critic and she said the city's decision sends a strong message to the provincial government that the RCMP contract may have some flaws.
"The surprise, quote unquote, costs keep coming," said Kathy. "Municipalities keep getting more of the costs downloaded on them. - The contract doesn't protect against those increased costs."
Kathy said municipalities found out last week they will be paying increased healthcare costs for the RCMP.
"How many more of these will come up?" she said. "This is a 20-year deal, and I think municipalities are looking for a situation where they won't be seeing these surprises coming."
Kathy said she plans to bring up questions about the RCMP deal in Victoria on Monday.