For almost three months, Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan has said he wouldn't sign the new 20-year RCMP contract the province negotiated with the federal government until key issues like cost certainty and accountability were addressed in a meaningful way.
But on Tuesday morning, Corrigan told the Burnaby NOW that after meeting with the mayors of other holdout cities like Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and the district and city of North Vancouver, Burnaby will sign off on the deal.
"The cities got together and agreed to get an independent consultant to look at other policing alternatives," Corrigan said. "In the interim ... we've decided to sign the agreement provided there are no financial consequences imposed on us. ... We're also looking at the two-year opt-out provision."
Coquitlam voted on Monday night to sign off on the deal while Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie told the Richmond News that the cities did agree to chip in for the consultation process, but no final decision has been made in terms of Richmond signing off on the RCMP contract.
Corrigan said many cities still aren't happy with the deal.
"We're signing this under protest," said Corrigan. "We're under duress."
Corrigan said the holdout mayors had asked for and received two extensions on signing off on the deal, but Justice Minister Shirley Bond made it pretty clear that June 30 was a firm deadline and if cities didn't sign, they would face financial consequences such as increased property taxes.
Corrigan wouldn't give an exact date on when Burnaby will sign off on the deal, but said it would be before the June 30 deadline.
"There is no way I was going to cost Burnaby taxpayers money," said Corrigan. "The provincial government put us in a bad situation, they put us between a rock and a hard place by negotiating a contract that didn't address a lot of unresolved issues. - They got the best deal they could because the provincial government is afraid to stand up to the federal Conservatives."
Corrigan said that with a provincial election coming up in less than a year, the provincial Liberals need to preserve their centre-right coalition and that meant not offending the federal Conservative government.
Corrigan said the holdout cities showed a lot of courage in standing up to the provincial government and by getting an independent consultant to look at other policing models, the municipalities are keeping their minds open to any and all alternatives.
The financial consequences holdout cities could have faced by not signing the deal included the province forcing them to pay the full 100 per cent of the costs for their policing. Under the RCMP contract, the federal government subsidizes 10 per cent of a municipality's policing costs.
Alternative policing models include a municipal, a regional, or a Metro Vancouver police force.