page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Police Governance

Police Governance

While I have a great deal of faith in our local RCMP members, I think there is a gap in our community: we don’t have the full degree of civilian oversight which legislation allows us to have.

The Alberta Police Act is the main piece of legislation laying out how police interact with their local communities. It does not grant City Council any degree of oversight to our RCMP detachment. However, the Act does allow Council to establish a Policing Committee. If formed, this Committee would have legislated oversight of the RCMP. For example, it would have a say in who our Detachment Commander is, and it would work with that person to develop yearly plans and strategies.

Any community would be well served by having this type of police governance in place. However, I think there are new circumstances making a Policing Committee especially important right now:

  • Growing concerns about crime. As concern grows, residents are looking for more evidence that their priorities are reflected in our policing. A Policing Committee can ensure the RCMP are acting on local priorities. A Policing Committee is also well equipped to report back to the public on RCMP matters.

  • Unionization of the RCMP. RCMP members are unionizing, and this will likely raise their employment costs significantly. As taxpayers contribute more to policing, we need to ensure good value is being returned. A Policing Committee will provide the necessary oversight to ensure we are getting the best possible results from our RCMP contract.

  • Upcoming changes to municipal policing. It is very likely that the way the RCMP handles municipal policing will change dramatically in the next 5-10 years. As it does, we will need local civilians who are familiar with police governance to help our community navigate change. A Policing Committee will allow us to grow that capacity in Grande Prairie.

Encampments FAQ

Encampments FAQ

Something that has received a lot of attention lately: tents and other encampments in the City.

There has been a lot of questions raised, especially concerning the area surrounding Rotary House. Some want those living in these encampments dealt with more sternly. And some think the City’s approach is too tough considering the lack of treatment and daytime shelter services in our community. I don’t think anyone thinks the current situation is ideal.

Because there is so much concern, I want to discuss the questions I receive most frequently.

But before I do, I want to offer some push back on two suggestions I’ve had pitched to me. Those are:

  • “Lock all those people up.” I certainly think that we should prosecute property and violent crime whenever possible. However, I don’t buy that every person living in encampments is a serious criminal. I do think that the vast majority are struggling with mental health and addictions. And jail isn’t a solution to those problems. It is also worth noting that the courts are outside of City jurisdiction and would not jail these people, even if Council wanted that to happen.

  • “Leave the encampments alone: they aren’t harming anyone.” On an emotional level, it doesn’t sit well with me that we are dismantling encampments on vulnerable people. However, encampments raise a number of concerns. The big ones to me are inadequate physical security and sanitation. Encampments have large risks, both for the people living in them and the wider community. We need to ensure that the people living in them have other places to go. But we shouldn’t allow people to camp on City land.

I also want to push back against those who suggest that these encampments and the challenges related to them make our community a horrible place to be. I wholeheartedly disagree. Our city certainly has challenges: I won’t minimize that. But it is the only place I want to raise my kids: it is beautiful, it has lots to do, it is safe, and it has amazing people. Grande Prairie is where I’ve chosen to make my home, and I am very proud of it.

Following are some questions I frequently receive and some information to respond to them.

Municipal Election Rules

Municipal Election Rules

At tomorrow’s Corporate Services Committee meeting, I’ll be bringing up rules for municipal elections. There are two changes I would like to see considered: an increase to the number of signatures needed for nominations, and an overhaul of rules governing campaign signs.

Following is my thinking behind those changes.

Elections are a very sensitive thing. Arguably, they are THE thing any democratic institution needs to get right. So, change needs to be made carefully and with open conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ll be proposing. I think these ideas are worth consideration, but I also have an open mind as they get discussed.

Did Taxes Go Down? And How Do Taxes Get Set?

Did Taxes Go Down? And How Do Taxes Get Set?

in 2019, Council’s budget delivered a 4.1% decrease to an average residential property.

However, there is a problem with averages: most people fall above or below them.

I heard from a number of people who were grateful to see their tax bills go down. But Council also heard from a number of people who said something like “my taxes didn’t go down- what the heck!?”

To help ourselves and the community get a better picture of what happened with tax changes, Council asked for more information about how many properties received increases and decreases. This report was received on Tuesday. You can read it here.

Following is some of the information Council received about the changes in tax bills. I’m also including information about how your tax bill gets set.

Paying for Stormwater Systems

Paying for Stormwater Systems

One important service the City provides is a storm water system.

This is also an expensive service to deliver: in 2018, the City spent $6,325,000 on projects associated with storm drainage.

Currently, this work is primarily financed through tax revenue. However, Council is exploring moving towards a utility model for storm water. Under this model, property taxes would no longer go towards paying for drainage systems. This would lead to a tax reduction. However, property owners would receive a separate storm water utility bill….

I have no idea if I will ultimately support this change. However, I am looking forward to more information. A utility model for financing the storm system deserves consideration. It has a few potential benefits, the largest one being that it would likely deliver City tax payers a net financial savings.

Below is a bit more information about this idea and some potential benefits I see.

Parades and Facebook Tirades

Parades and Facebook Tirades

Since last July, there have been two fatalities at Canadian parades. This makes safety at our parades a top priority for me.

One important safety step taken at our Canada Day Parade: Enforcement Services was on site at the end point. Before drivers left, officers were checking to ensure loads were secure, passengers had seat belts, and other safety laws were being followed. My understanding is that several vehicles planning to depart were warned but not given tickets.

I would’ve been angry if this WASN’T happening. Last year, a man in Abbotsford died after the Canada Day Parade. He was on a float driving away, fell, and was run over. Knowing about this, I specifically looked to ensure we had people checking floats as they left.

Exactly one ticket was issued to a driver proceeding into regular traffic. There was a child without proper safety restraints in the cab.

There was a lot of anger about this on Facebook. Some [wrongly] alleged that multiple tickets were issued. And some suggested that Enforcement Services shouldn’t have been there at all.

I understand, but don’t agree with, the anger about the single ticket being issued. But, I really don’t understand those suggesting Enforcement Services shouldn’t have even been present at all. As the main organizer, the City is responsible to ensure floats leave safely.

I was also very disappointed to see the Facebook conversation. There was a lot of misinformation and destructive language being thrown around. This isn’t good for our community.

It’s fair and important to criticize government. But doing that in an abusive manner isn’t necessary or constructive.

I’d love to hear from you. Whether you have a different understanding of events, questions, or concerns: I’m happy to talk.

Changes to Transit

Changes to Transit

There have been some changes to transit recently approved. Notably, several routes will be receiving reduced service and fares are being increased. At the same time, Council has made tax reduction a priority. This has led some to be concerned about the future of transit. They wonder if Council is going to find savings by continuing transit reductions and fare increases.

I don’t think that will be the case. My perception isn’t that Council has supported transit changes with tax savings in mind. I think current changes are intended to allow for a better transit system in the future. However, I think our current process of implementing change it flawed. For that reason, I voted against our route and fair updates.

Because I know how important transit is to many, I wanted to share my views on current and potential future changes to transit.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference

Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference

This week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is holding a conference…

This year’s FCM Conference is being held in Quebec City. The conference made recent Alberta news. Medicine Hat City Council voted to boycott it in response Quebec’s opposition to pipelines. Several people have asked me if Grande Prairie is joining this boycott.

I’m not aware of any other Alberta municipalities following Medicine Hat's lead. Here is a statement from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) President about the importance of this conference….

Councillors from Grande Prairie will be attending this conference. I will be one of them. Following are my reasons for doing so.