WHEREAS the Traffic Safety Act, being Chapter T-6 of the Revised Statutes of Alberta, RSA 2000, as amended, sets out the provisions for use of the highways in the province; AND WHEREAS enforcement of certain provisions of the Traffic Safety Act on primary highways (including former secondary highways) in the rural areas of the province is the sole responsibility of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with limited authority given to certain select urban police forces;AND WHEREAS the human resources of the RCMP are often insufficient to provide enforcement of Traffic Safety Act violations on primary highways in rural areas; AND WHEREAS the Alberta government has recognized the valuable service that special constables provide to the communities that employ them and has established the special constable program to provide a supplemental level of traffic enforcement to communities who see a need to monitor their local roads; AND WHEREAS the Alberta government has recently amended its provincial policy to allow enforcement by special constables on primary 1 or 2-digit highways within an urban municipality where the posted speed limit is less than 70 km/h, subject to approval of a traffic enforcement plan; AND WHEREAS the Alberta government has not afforded the same privilege to rural municipalities who are faced with similar traffic enforcement issues as their urban counterparts;AND WHEREAS it is in the collective and best interest of the Province of Alberta to ensure the uniform enforcement of traffic safety matters;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend its regulations and/or policies to provide rural municipalities with the authority to use special constables for enforcement of all provisions of the Traffic Safety Act on rural primary highways.
For many years, the Solicitor Generals department has granted municipalities the authority to hire special constables to provide local law enforcement. Examples of enforcement services include bylaw enforcement, animal control, certain criminal and liquor offences and traffic safety enforcement on specified roads. However, until recently, government policy restricted enforcement of the Traffic Safety Act on primary highways to the provincial police service (RCMP) and certain select urban police forces. The reasons given for this policy included jurisdictional issues and potential conflicts in operational procedures between law enforcement agencies. In response to increased pressure from urban municipalities, business owners and urban residents, the special constable policy has recently been amended to allow special constables to act on Traffic Safety Act violations on primary 1 or 2-digit highways within an urban municipality where the posted speed limit is less than 70 km/h, subject to approval of a traffic enforcement plan.While this step is an improvement in the ability of local and provincial law enforcement agencies to work together to provide safe urban communities, there is still a gap in the service provided in the rural areas. Rural area enforcement has traditionally taken a back seat to that of urban centres simply by virtue of the ratio of area required to be monitored in relation to the number of law enforcement officers available. However, traffic safety violations and those who seek to challenge the peace, security, and safety of the travelling public know no boundaries and the failure of the Solicitor Generals department to extend authority to special constables on primary highways in rural areas can only lead to an increase in illegal and unsafe traffic practices in the rural areas as users of the road soon recognize that rural highways are in large part unprotected. In addition, jurisdictional and liability issues will only be intensified when special constables are forced to stop at the line and watch helplessly while a dangerous situation plays out in the rural area unhindered by legitimate law enforcement agencies.This resolution seeks to level the playing field for urban and rural residents and ensure that all Albertans are offered the same level of security where traffic enforcement issues are concerned.