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Province must share costs of out-of-town criminals

Staff writer |
Edmonton councillors want the province to pick up the tab for police spending on criminals who don't live in the city.

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“This is going to be one of the very first items with the Premier and with the solicitor general and minister of municipal affairs on the charter,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

Ninety percent of the regional policing dollars are spent in Edmonton, but the city gets less money from the province for police per capita than other municipalities.

Mr. Iveson said Edmonton pays for a service which benefits the whole region. “It it reasonable for 878,000 Edmontonians, out of our property taxes, to pay to police northern Canada?” asked Iveson. “I say the answer is no.”

Meanwhile, Edmonton's police committee says the force's budget is already stretched by the city's growing population.

The commission has asked for 400 new officers over the next five years to keep up with the growth. The additional staff would cost the city an extra $15.4 million in the first year alone.

"We cannot hold the line with the number of people we have,” said Shami Sandhu, chair of the commission, at the city's community services committee on Monday.

He said much the force's time is spent dealing with people from out of town. “There are a lot of people from around Edmonton, the shadow population that do come into Edmonton for entertainment, for work; they need to be policed,” Sandhu said. “Unfortunately, there's no way for the City of Edmonton to collect money from anyone to help cover that cost.”

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