SUMMERSIDE - City councillors here have rejected a proposal from the province to cost-share the expense for the Canadian Intelligence Service of Prince Edward Island (CISPEI).
The service performs intelligence gathering on behalf of member agencies and is part of national intelligence program.
CISPEI was established in August of 2006 with a grant from the federal government. The bureau is integrated with the RCMP’s L Division Criminal Analysis Section and has five member agencies: RCMP L Division, and the police departments of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington and the now closed Borden-Carleton police service.
The funding for the program ended on March 31, 2013, and the province picked up the tab for the $451,610 service. That funding ceases on March 31, 2014 and the provincial government wants the municipalities of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington, Stratford and Cornwall to pick up roughly half of the cost. Each municipal share would be based on population numbers.
Under the province’s proposal, Summerside would contribute $49,610 annually to the program. Charlottetown would pay $112,750, Kensington, $4,510, Stratford, $27,060 and Cornwall $18,040. The province would make up the difference with an annual contribution of $243,540.
Council was unanimous in its opinion that the province is trying to download the costs of services and programs to the municipalities.
Acting CAO Gordon MacFarlane said a group met with the province over this proposal and questioned why only five municipalities were asked to share the burden and not the entire province.
MacFarlane said they were provided with no rationale for that decision.
Summerside Police Chief David Poirier said the CISPEI is a valuable program and has played a major role in drug enforcement and the elimination of illegal cigarettes throughout the province.
But the police chief stopped short when questioned by Coun. Frank Costa as to how much he valued the program.
Costa said the city budget is tight with very little expendable resources and asked the chief of police would he consider absorbing the cost in the police department budget even if it meant cutting other programs.
Deputy mayor Bruce MacDougall took a hard line against the province. He said it is just another attempt to download responsibilities onto the city and council “can’t let this happen because it is wrong.”
Coun. Tina Mundy pointed to the province’s position to overlook the mandate of the CISPEI, which states the CISPEI is “to be the provincial centre of excellence in support of law enforcement efforts to detect, reduce and prevent organized and serious crime affecting P.E.I. and Canada.”
Councillors also pointed out that the province is continually cutting funding to municipalities and that there is no clear revenue sharing formula in place and because of that, the city losses hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly.
MacFarlane said that both the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia fully fund their CIS programs.
Council directed MacFarlane and the chief of police to continue the dialogue with the province to try and resolve this issue.