The future of policing services in Plum Coulee remains in limbo as the deadline for the current agreement draws closer. The deal, which puts Plum Coulee under the jurisdiction of the Altona Police Service, was struck prior to the town's amalgamation with the Municipality of Rhineland in 2014 and is set to expire at the end of 2019.
Legislation dictates that a municipality be policed by a single agency, putting the current deal in jeopardy once it runs out as the RCMP is responsible for the remainder of Rhineland.
"After amalgamation, that's one of the things that didn't get resolved," said Don Wiebe, reeve for the Municipality of Rhineland. "We are still waiting for the province to make a final decision as to how Plum Coulee policing will be accommodated, or what our options are."
Officials with the municipality met with Manitoba Justice on Tuesday to try and get some answers. Representatives from the RCMP also attended the gathering to shed some light on what the agency could offer in terms of police services in Plum Coulee.
Wiebe said residents of Plum Coulee have enjoyed the presence of the Altona Police Service in town, and he explained Rhineland officials stressed at Tuesday's meeting that they don't want to see a reduction in those services. This point came up at a recent public consultation meeting hosted by the municipality in preparation for its annual strategic planning session.
"People want to feel safe, and a police presence is one of those indicators that someone cares and that someone is looking after us," said Wiebe. "Visibility is a big thing, and of course the service that is there presently, they want it to continue."
The municipality has to serve notice to the Town of Altona and the Altona Police Service 1 year in advance of the contract deadline. That's in just over two weeks on December 31st. Wiebe said he got the impression that the Manitoba Justice officials understood this urgency and that they would work swiftly to get an answer.