Policing costs could soar if population hits 15,000

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At least 1,000 jobs expected in three years

Olds taxpayers could be hit with much higher policing costs if the 1,000 or more jobs anticipated in this community over the next few years boost the town’s population above 15,000.

Under an agreement between RCMP and governments, municipalities with populations between 5,000 and 15,000 pay 70 per cent of the cost of policing and the federal government pays 30 per cent.

However, municipalities with populations of 15,000 or more pay 90 per cent of the cost and the feds only pay 10 per cent.

The 2016 census pegged the population of Olds at 9,184.

Town officials are anticipating that at least 1,000 jobs could be created over the next three years or so as two new marijuana production companies – Sundial Growers Inc. and Crescent Enterprises set up shop in the southeast industrial park, just west of the cemetery. One existing company, Olds Soft Gels, is also expanding into the medical marijuana business.

In addition, a company from India is looking at setting up a canola crushing plant in the community.

Olds RCMP commanding officer Staff Sgt. Jim MacDonald told the Albertan that the number of police officers in Olds would have to be “reassessed” if the town’s population rises significantly in light of new businesses and jobs coming to the community.

“With any significant increase in population, policing needs would certainly need to be reassessed to be sure we can continue to provide the quality of service expected by the community,” MacDonald said in an email.

During a breakfast meeting at the legion on Feb. 16, Mayor Mike Muzychka was asked if there’ll be a need for more police officers as a result of those jobs and an anticipated expansion of the town’s population.

“Absolutely it will impact,” Muzychka said.

He said the town is looking at sharing those costs with Mountain View County.

“Hopefully, as the population grows, the funding comes down from above,” he said.

MacDonald said if he believes more police officers are needed in Olds, that recommendation would be made by him in consultation with RCMP K Division’s operational strategy branch “and the applicable governments.”

He said the exact number of additional officers needed would be determined by analyzing several factors, including the population increase and the number of calls.

“With any significant increase in population, policing needs would certainly need to be reassessed to be sure we can continue to provide the quality of service expected by the community.”
OLDS RCMP STAFF SGT. JIM MACDONALD

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.