Under the Police Act, municipalities with populations 5,000 and over must provide their own law enforcement by:
- Forming their own police department
- Contracting with an existing police department
- Contracting with the provincial government for RCMP police services
Municipal Police Departments
Twelve municipalities in British Columbia have eleven municipal police departments. They are:
- Central Saanich
- New Westminster
- Oak Bay
- Port Moody
- West Vancouver
These departments are governed by municipal police boards.
Municipal Police Boards
In British Columbia, municipal police departments are overseen by an appointed police board made up of civilian members of the community. Under the Police Acta municipal police board, in consultation with the Chief Constable, is required to determine the priorities, goals and objectives of the police department.
A police board consists of the mayor, who acts as chair, one person appointed by the municipal council and up to seven people appointed by the province. Board members are selected from a variety of backgrounds and can serve up to a maximum of six years. Board members are volunteers; however related training and travel expenses are covered.
There are currently 12 municipalities in B.C. policed by 11 independent municipal police departments. These municipalities pay 100 percent of their policing costs from local property taxes.
RCMP Municipal Police Units
There are 63 municipalities in B.C. that contract with the province for RCMP municipal police services. The RCMP operates stand-alone, integrated and regional detachments across the province.
An integrated detachment is two or more municipal or provincial RCMP units working in the same building. The North Vancouver city, district and provincial RCMP units, for example, make up the North Vancouver detachment. The members from each unit in an integrated detachment report to the same commanding officer. Integrated detachments usually provide services to the combined municipal and provincial policing areas.
A regional detachment will manage integrated and independent detachments in an area. For example, the Kelowna Regional Detachment manages the West Kelowna Integrated Detachment (West Kelowna municipal unit and the Kelowna provincial unit) and the Lake Country Detachment (Lake Country municipal unit).
These arrangements allow specialized and administrative police services to be delivered regionally.
RCMP Municipal Police Service Agreements
The Municipal Police Service Agreement (PDF) between British Columbia and Canada permits the province to sub-contract the RCMP provincial force to municipalities.
There are different cost-sharing formulas for municipalities with RCMP contracts.
Municipalities with populations from 5,000 to 14,999 pay 70 percent of the cost base described in the policing agreements. The federal government pays the remaining 30 percent.
Municipalities with populations of 15,000 or more pay 90 percent of the cost base described in the policing agreements. The federal government pays the remaining 10 percent.
The costs are outlined in the agreement, including:
- Members’ pay and allowances
- Employer contributions to member pension and benefits
- Professional and special services
- Recruit training costs
- Some administration costs