Dan Wong, Grande Prairie Police Commission (GPPC) chair at city hall council chambers in Grande Prairie, Alta. on Monday, July 24, 2023. City council approved the Grande Prairie Police Service’s first annual budget of just under $4 million. (Photo by Jesse Boily)Jesse Boily

City council approved the Grande Prairie Police Service (GPPS) $3,975,450 budget at Monday’s council meeting. 

The budget will fund the police transition team, police commission, and police service until the end of 2023 and also provide funds for capital purchases that will support the police service in upcoming years.  

“This funding was just really crucial in order to keep us right on track,” said Dan Wong, Grande Prairie Police Commission (GPPC) chair.

The GPPS operating budget includes $1.7 million in salary and benefit expenses; $586,436 for contracted and general services; $677,970 for materials, supplies and utilities; $207,400 for other transactions; and $777,000 in capital for a fleet. 

“We are a little bit behind in what we’d like to get accomplished this year,” said Wong. 

“Having this funding will allow us to get back on track.”

Wong said the establishment of the commission and its many tasks follow the MNP Policing Transition Report. 

The Grande Prairie Police Commission’s first members were appointed in May, and the police chief, Dwayne Lakusta, was hired in July though he will not be starting the position until Aug. 28.

The next task for the commission is to hire six senior police officers. Lakusta has agreed to begin writing those job descriptions before he officially begins his role, said Wong.

The fulfillment of hiring six senior officers is not a worry for Wong. He said he believes many officers will want to join a new police service especially under the leadership of Lakusta. 

“I think that he’s (Lakusta) a very inspirational leader; he will bring a lot of really good senior-level officers that want to work underneath him.”

The police service is subject to the provincial Police Act, and council approves an overall budget for the police service, but the police commission is responsible for allocating funds within the budget.

Due to the infancy of the GPPS and the commission, the police transition team prepared and presented the budget to the Grande Prairie Police Commission with permission from the province. 

“The decision to do so was necessary to ensure the policing transition could continue in an efficient and effective manner,” reads a city report on the budget. 

The budget is being funded from the Police Transition Financial Reserves, which was fully funded by provincial grants. 

The province dedicated $9.7 million to the city if it were to transition to a municipal police service in February. 

Chief Financial Officer Danielle Whiteway said the city has received $5.4 million from the province for transition costs currently. 

The total transition cost is estimated to be $19 million over five years as the GPPS would phase out the RCMP as the police of jurisdiction in the city.

The RCMP currently is the police jurisdiction in the city.

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 27, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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