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RCMP secrecy on Truro communications centre criticized

RCMP Communications Centre
RCMP Communications Centre - Google Earth
TRURO, N.S. —

Elected officials who met with RCMP administrators about plans to move the Operational Communications Centre out of Truro say they would like to know what that decision was based on.

“We all spoke against this and we did not understand their argument,” said Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey. “It does not make sense why they are doing it.”

Casey, along with Truro Mayor Bill Mills, Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair, a representative from the Millbrook band council and a representative from Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River Lenore Zann’s office, were recently informed by top RCMP officials in a closed meeting that the dispatch centre is to be moved to Dartmouth by February 2021.

One of the reasons given, the elected officials said, was that RCMP has had problems with training and recruiting personnel for the Truro dispatch centre.

But Casey said that explanation was difficult to accept because none of the politicians in the room had heard those concerns expressed before.

Casey also asked to see a feasibility study the RCMP said it had used to base its decision on but was told he would have to file an Access to Information request (ATI), a factor that left him frustrated given that the last time he did so took more than 700 days to receive a highly redacted document.

“We were all elected officials there and they won’t make the feasibility study available,” he said.

“The RCMP has this report in their hands. The fact is, that issues affecting the safety of the public should be available to everyone, not just the RCMP. There is no reason for secrets. However, I have once again filed an ATI application for the new RCMP report. I have also filed ATI requests for other information. I will not wait for 730 days this time.”

Mills said he questioned how far the feasibility study went as far as looking at other options such as the offer by Millbrook First Nations to provide a modern facility or whether there had been any attempt to access federal funding for a new centre in Truro. But the RCMP were not forthcoming with any answers.

That was also a sore point for Blair.

“Now, you have to keep in mind, everybody in that room is used to dealing with confidential issues,” she said.

“I really and truly believe that this is a mistake and I think that time will prove it is a mistake and, in that proof, I hope that there is no disaster or catastrophe attached that would impact all of Nova Scotia.”

Casey said the group was told that in addition to transferring the Truro operations to Dartmouth, the RCMP is planning to set up a small, “back-up” communications centre in New Minas.

“We all spoke against this,” he said. “And we did not understand their argument. It does not make sense why they are doing it.”

Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade said that in past discussions with the RCMP, his band had offered to provide a new centre on a long-term lease basis at no cost to the taxpayers but the proposal got stalled without an official response.

And Gloade said the information about New Minas came as a complete surprise.

“Why New Minas? Because your initial employees are not in New Minas, they’re in Truro,” he said. “Moving to New Minas is ridiculous.”

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