Northern News Services
Monday, June 25, 2007
SACHS HARBOUR - Sachs Harbour's hamlet council was surprised to hear of the RCMP's delayed arrival, announced this month.
Mayor Robert Eldridge said the council had been planning a celebration to welcome two resident officers.
"It's a surprise to us all, we found out about it in the newspaper about a week ago," he said on June 20.
According to Eldridge, the Inuvik RCMP was also unaware of the proposed arrangement, which would see two-fully-dedicated officers reside in Inuvik but visit Sachs Harbour every week until a barracks and better housing are built.
Eldridge said he called the Yellowknife RCMP seeking explanation, and received a letter.
It explained the community could not house officers because it had no jail cell and housing was inadequate.
While Eldridge admits the hamlet's current facilities are poor - the barracks have been condemned leaving officers without a jail cell - he said the RCMP had agreed to move to Sachs Harbour this year, and said construction was scheduled for August 2008.
"They knew this back when they told us we were getting RCMP. We knew and they knew that we wouldn't be able to build this year."
He also said arrests should be rare in the hamlet, and officers could still function without a jail cell.
"Why have two officers sitting in Inuvik? They should be sitting here. If someone needs to be jailed, then send the plane," he said.
On June 4, News/North quoted North District Policing Officer Parker Kennedy, who said the RCMP would not move into the hamlet's substandard facilities.
"I believe what is proposed is that they'll be temporarily housed in Inuvik and come under the direction of the detachment commander until such time as we can properly relocate them in Sachs Harbour," he said.
Eldridge said there appears to be inconsistency in measuring standards.
For instance, he said the proposed residence of the RCMP is a two-storey house, which currently houses the community's teachers.
While the teachers currently live there - with the blessing of the hamlet and the department of Education, Culture and Employment - Eldridge said the RCMP had a geological survey done and said the permafrost was unstable.
"They said the permafrost is split and the hillside is moving, so they don't want to put RCMP officers in there. But if there's that much of a danger, why are they (the department of education) letting other people in there?"
He added he wasn't sure what would happen next, and whether the territorial budget's allowance of $428,000 for new police facilities would pay for non-resident officers.
"We're still looking for answers, the ones we got were pretty flimsy. We contacted Yellowknife because we wanted to have a big to-do and welcome the officers. That was three weeks ago, and at that time, they gave us no indication they were not coming. The whole community's disappointed," he said.
While RCMP Inspector Parker Kennedy was the north district policing officer in early June, he has since transferred out of Yellowknife.
Inspector Roch Fortin, who could not be reached as of press time, has taken over the position.
Sachs Harbour has been without resident police since 1992, and from April 2006 to April 2007 the community placed 22 calls to the Inuvik RCMP.