NDP accuses UCP of plan to make rural communities pay for policing

Residents of smaller, rural Alberta municipalities could soon pay $406 a year more in taxes if the UCP goes ahead with a claw-back on policing costs, the NDP said Wednesday. 

The province currently covers all policing costs for towns under 5,000 people and counties, improvement districts, municipal districts and towns under 5,000. 

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government is considering a plan to recover anywhere from 15 to 70 per cent of the costs to police 291 municipalities. 

The NDP released a PowerPoint outlining the proposal that has been shared with the chief administrative officers of municipalities over the past two weeks. 

“This is another broken promise from this premier,” Notley said in a news conference at the Alberta legislature on Wednesday. “And it goes to the very heart of one of their most key campaign promises that they made in the last election.”

Notley said the cost recovery means municipalities will either raise property taxes or cut services in other areas to pay for policing. The tax burden could be as much as $406 a year. 

“It’s not nothing, $406 a year, when Albertans were told that this government was going to run on making life more affordable for them and improving the attack on rural crime,” Notley said. 

In a written statement, Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer accused the NDP of making unfounded accusations and using the consultation to sow fear in rural communities.

“Our government made a commitment to Albertans to consult on the police funding model that became broken under the NDP,” he said. “We are investing more in policing, not less.”

In the last fiscal year, Alberta paid $232.5 million to police these communities which are home to about 20 per cent of the province’s residents. 

A spokesperson added that it was “a stretch” for the NDP to make assumptions about the government’s plans based on a consultation and that there will be no decrease in funding for policing. 

Schweitzer is on a tour to talk to rural Albertans about crime in their communities. 

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