The Town of Pincher Creek is leaving Alberta’s community peace officer program following the departure of its two CPOs starting last October, according to Mayor Don Anderberg.
Municipal bylaws will be enforced by a dedicated bylaw officer as soon as town hall hires a suitable candidate. The town will also hire a full-time bylaw and safety co-ordinator to stay on top of training requirements and enforcement priorities, Lisa Goss, town hall’s head of legislative services, told Shootin’ the Breeze.
Goss said her office is reviewing applications, but qualified that the hiring process will take as long as needed.
Pincher Creek participated in the CPO program for about 10 years, but recent changes to the town’s legislative obligations under the Peace Officer Act spurred council to reassess the program’s value after the former CPOs took jobs outside the municipality, Anderberg explained.
“It was getting a little onerous for us. We’re now focusing back on what we believe to be the core issues around bylaw enforcement,” he told the Breeze last Thursday.
The province runs the program through the Justice Ministry, while municipalities and other eligible agencies hire CPOs and set the limits of their authority, according to the program’s March 2022 policy and procedures manual.
Pincher Creek’s CPOs enforced municipal bylaws and some provincial laws, handling traffic violations through the Traffic Act, according to Anderberg and Goss.
Anderberg said the CPOs’ broader focus sometimes came at the expense of local bylaw enforcement, noting that Pincher Creek RCMP have “really stepped up” local traffic enforcement. The town’s chief administrative officer was meanwhile required to sign off on CPOs’ paperwork as per the Peace Officer Act, which Anderberg said ate up time and resources.
“It was cumbersome [for administration] to manage the program. It certainly took time,” Goss elaborated.
She said town hall recommended transitioning back to bylaw officers after reviewing enforcement strategies taken by the MD, Cowley, Crowsnest Pass, Cowley and Cardston County.
Fort Macleod left the program three years ago, citing the province’s “downloading” of policing costs onto small municipalities starting in 2020, according to a press release on the town’s website.
Crowsnest Pass has stayed in the program, and now employs three CPOs to handle traffic and enforce municipal bylaws, according to a spokesperson for the municipality.
Pincher Creek’s new bylaw officer will have a working relationship with Pincher Creek RCMP.
The town’s former CPOs left separately last October and December, Goss said.