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Forum questions abound

Posted on October 16, 2013 by Taber Times

On Oct. 9 I attended the public forum at the Heritage Inn to learn more about the candidates running for town council. My expectations were low, as this was my first experience with such an event. I was surprised with what I perceived to be a low turnout, given our town’s population of somewhere around 8,000 people. It was made clear to me early into the forum that I should have done better research on the candidates and their platforms ahead of time, as I then would have been better prepared to ask direct questions, expecting direct answers. Instead, I left scratching my head, wondering how am I to make an informed decision when only very general information was delivered.

While seated, we were handed Henk DeVlieger’s written platform information. I read through it, and became acutely aware of the section entitled  “Enforcement,” and two bullet points followed:

1) Look at lowering the almost unaffordable cost of policing by looking at partnerships with other communities.

2) Investigate the balance between the rising cost of policing and the needs of our town.

I don’t recall any discussion about this throughout the forum. And as it sunk in later that evening, I was surprised it wasn’t brought up. This issue catapulted to the top of my interest list, even given the long list of many issues council members both present and future addressed within their platforms. I have many questions now: How do they plan to lower the cost of policing? What do they mean by partnerships with other communities? How are they going to investigate the balance of rising costs of policing and the needs of our town? This caught my eye and I highlighted it.

If the plan is to gear back our town police in numbers, get rid of them altogether, have RCMP look after Taber, or combine services with another community, I’ll not vote this route. I need clarification of their intentions. In a time with recent illegal drug importation, and schools sending handouts home to alert parents of high-risk sexual predators at large, now is not the time to jeopardize the police presence in Taber. I have read the Year End Report 2013 — available for public viewing on, giving the 2012 year in review regarding all things policing, and comparatively measuring years 2011 to 2012. Of particular concern to me, is the 133 per cent increase in cocaine possession, and 57 per cent increase in cocaine trafficking. These incidences come to light because of officers investigating and their ongoing surveillance. As a mother of three young children, this is important to me. As a concerned citizen, this is important to me. The “almost unaffordable costs of policing” has to be figured out. Unquestionably, we have to keep policing local. I worry if left to other communities, response time will be directly affected. Our proactive approach will move to reactivity. We have to be ready and fully staffed for the “what ifs”, because if those “what ifs” happen (and they will) and our help is 30 kilometres away, we are too late.


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