Terrace, Prince Rupert examining options for police dog services

The issue of police dog services in Prince Rupert and Terrace came up at last night's meeting of Terrace council.

Terrace taxpayers could be paying as much as $50,000 a year beginning next year to keep a RCMP dog and handler stationed in the community instead of Prince Rupert.

The alternative is that Terrace might lose a locally-based RCMP dog and handler altogether, Terrace RCMP detachment commander Inspector Dana Hart explained to council last night in outlining a complex chain of events.

The starting point is the transfer out of Prince Rupert of a police dog and handler paid for by the City of Prince Rupert, said Hart.

Instead of replacing the dog and handler, the City of Prince Rupert has decided to spend the money on a senior RCMP inspector instead.

And if that happens and there is no police dog in Prince Rupert, Hart continued, the Terrace-area dog, which is paid for by the province, could be shifted to the coast.

There is a possibility the dog would be relocated,” said Hart.

“There is a strong possibility the dog will be relocated to Prince Rupert.”

RCMP aircraft, based in Prince Rupert, can more efficiently fly a dog and handler where and when needed, he said as one reason for basing a dog and handler in that location.

As it is, the Terrace-based provincially paid dog with handler covers an area from Houston to Haida Gwaii and the Yukon/Alaska border to Bella Bella.

At the same time, the federal government is cutting a Canadian Border Service dog and handler in Prince Rupert.

That being the case, said Hart, having a RCMP dog in Prince Rupert becomes even more crucial.

In essence, said Hart, one police dog would be doing the job of three.

But the plan, as outlined by Hart, would see two RCMP dogs based in the northwest, one in Terrace and the other in Prince Rupert.

Each city would pay for half of the cost of their own service, estimated at $50,000. The provincial government would then pay for the other half of each dog, which amounts to the same as if it were paying for one dog by itself.

Hart said having each city pay 50 per cent of the cost is cheaper than having each dog be considered a municipal position.

If each dog was a municipal position, each city’s costs would be 70 per cent with the province paying the remaining 30 per cent.

Hart did add that Prince Rupert and the province have to approve of the plan.

Councillors asked city finance director Ron Bowles about the impact to the budget.

He said the $50,000 cost would amount to a 0.5 per cent local tax increase.

The plan would come in effect next year, leaving council some time to find the money.

Councillor Marylin Davies asked how badly Terrace needs a police dog.

Hart said keeping two RCMP dogs in the northwest means dividing responsibilities and shortening response times.

Downie said that it looks like the city doesn’t have a lot of choice given the worth of having a police dog here.

“I fully support having a police dog … it’s very important,” said Mayor Dave Pernarowski.

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