Municipality of North Cowichan faces huge rise in police costs

Police costs will likely rise up to nine per cent in 2017-18 in the Municipality of North Cowichan

Police costs will likely rise up to nine per cent in 2017-18 in the Municipality of North Cowichan, but the region will see no increase in police services as a result.

CAO Dave Devana said increased costs related to contract negotiations with the municipality’s 31 RCMP members, and the growing costs of police training are the major reasons for the increase in the municipality’s police budget.

He said the extra costs for policing mean the municipality’s entire budget for 2017-18 will have to be increased as much as two per cent.

“It’s a significant cost increase, and there’s no way we can control it,” he said.

Coun. Al Siebring, chairman of the municipality’s protective services committee, said the committee looked everywhere for areas where cost alleviations could be found to make up for the increase in police costs.

“We even proposed pulling back the canine member of our police force,” he said.

“There’s a canine unit in Nanaimo that we could borrow if necessary, and that would cost us a lot less money.”

Coun. Tom Walker said he doesn’t like “being dictated to” by Ottawa in determining police costs and budgets, and suggested the potential nine per cent increase in costs for the municipality should be reviewed by the province.

“We’re a victim of the province negotiating with Ottawa for these costs.” Walker said.

“I don’t know if any changes can be made, but it should be said [that we have concerns].”

Siebring said it’s not just B.C., and it’s a fact that almost all the provinces negotiate directly with Ottawa over RCMP policing costs.

“We’re just a small fish in a large pond,” he said. “I think a letter should be sent [to the province], but I don’t know if that will get us anywhere.”