The Town of Irricana has joined the Villages of Beiseker and Acme in approving a Tri-Community Peace Officer Agreement during its June 19 council meeting.
The Tri-Community Peace Officer Agreement will allow the three communities to share and co-fund a peace officer position between them in order to enforce local bylaws and traffic safety.
According to Irricana CAO Doug Hafichuk, recruitment of an officer to fill the position is already well underway.
“The Town of Irricana has been without dedicated enforcement for a number of years, and addressing that gap has been a clear priority from Council and residents alike,” Hafichuk told the Rocky View Weekly in a recent email regarding the June 19 council decision. “Bylaws help us shape our community and build a community in alignment with the values and needs of residents.”
Hafichuk said being able to enforce the municipal bylaws will ensure local residents have a community people are “proud to live in.”
In an interview with the newspaper earlier this year, Mayor Jim Bryson also expressed his hope that such an agreement could be reached due to its obvious benefits for his community. He was particularly eager to bring in better traffic safety enforcement in Irricana.
“It’s a problem, and it has been getting worse,” Bryson said at the time, when asked about the number of bylaw and traffic safety violations in the small community of 1,200 residents. “If and when (enforcement) starts, we will have three or four months of warnings to let people know that we are starting to enforce our bylaws again. We are not going to jump in and start penalizing people right away.”
The cost of funding the new peace officer position is expected to be about $115,000 in 2023-24. Under the new agreement, the Village of Acme will pick up $23,000 of that cost with the Village of Beiseker and the Town of Irricana splitting the remaining $92,000 equally between them.
The peace officer will spend 40 per cent of their time in Beiseker, 40 per cent in Irricana, and the remaining 20 per cent in Acme.
The communities also agreed that $15,000 of revenue per year from of all traffic enforcement tickets issued in the three municipalities would be put aside as a capital reserve to cover any equipment costs the officer might need.
The Tri-Community Peace Officer Agreement is set to run for three years with an annual renewal option. It officially commenced as of July 1.
Hafichuk said he was thrilled the three communities were able to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement.
“It’s very difficult for a small municipality to carry the cost of full-time enforcement, so I’m incredibly grateful that our neighbours were willing to collaborate,” he said. “Working with CAOs Leslie (of Beiseker) and Sawatzky (of Acme) has been terrific, (and) our respective Councils have been really supportive … I’m confident that we’ve produced something of real value for all three communities.”
Irricana's CAO emphasized the new peace officer will take an “education first” approach within the community until local citizens get used to having them around again.
“The preference is always ‘Education First’ and, in preparation for bringing a peace officer onboard, we’re preparing some education materials for the public,” he stated. “No different than any other municipality, the most common complaints are about poor yard upkeep, snow-covered sidewalks, and illegally parked vehicles. So we’ll really emphasize the Community Standards and Traffic Bylaws first.”