The Aug. 9 shooting death of Colten Boushie on a farm northeast of Biggar, Sask. has fueled debate over security in the province’s rural areas.
This week, Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) said the organization wants a meeting with provincial and federal officials to discuss their needs.
“We know there are some budgetary restrictions,” he said. “But we need to ramp up the service out in those rural areas that are remote.”
Orb added there’s currently a program in place to train community safety officers working with the RCMP on crime prevention techniques in rural areas. Funding for the program flows through the province to municipalities, allowing them to hire and train personnel.
He said SARM has been actively lobbying the provincial and federal governments to provide additional policing services beyond the program as well.
“We need to have another meeting,” Orb said. “I think some of the things that have happened as of late just amplifies the need to get the province and municipalities together to talk.”
Orb said besides the need for more RCMP officers, isolated regions also face barriers when it comes to Internet and mobile phone connectivity. Orb said more reliable communications infrastructure would also allow rural residents to use modern security systems that require a steady network connection to operate.
Meeting between farmers and RCMP cancelled
Farmers in the area who wish to discuss concerns about security won’t get their opportunity just yet.
A meeting with RCMP scheduled for Thursday in Landis was cancelled after police pulled out.
Organizer Karen Murch said officers attended her restaurant Wednesday morning to inform her of the decision.
Murch said she was the victim of a home invasion and robbery earlier in 2016, when three males tied her up and took cash, liquor and personal belongings before fleeing in her half-tonne truck.
The business owner said she was disappointed by the RCMP decision.
Unity RCMP said they’re willing to meet with people in Landis with safety concerns, but it would have to be done through official channels.
A member at the detachment said they would have to be invited by town officials, and possibly bring an RCMP media spokesperson.