North Cowichan council ponders major crime opt-in

North Cowichan is investigating the possibility of assigning one Mountie to the Vancouver Island Major Crime Unit.

It would mean joining VIMCU as a participating member and the cost could be as much as $115,000 per year.

However, councillors decided Wednesday, July 2 that they were willing to take the first step and directed Mayor Jon Lefebure to write to the crime unit to get more information.

North Cowichan CAO Dave Devana explained, "What we’re trying to do here is insuring us against a million dollar bill" for investigating a big crime within municipal boundaries.

"We have passed a budget for the status quo but this implied we’d be looking at increasing our budget for 2016," Coun. Al Siebring reminded the group.

Siebring said he was still planning to talk at the Union of BC Municipalities convention about the need for help for municipalities in dealing with the costs of investigating major crimes.

Coun. John Koury said he was willing to support the idea in principle but wanted to know a lot more before any final commitment was made as he thought commitment to such a program would cost about $100,000 a year.

"And, it’s basically an insurance policy so we wouldn’t be facing extraordinary costs if we had a major crime here," he said. "But, I want to see comprehensively first what we’re committing ourselves too."

Coun. Barb Lines had other concerns.

"When the [RCMP report on crime in North Cowichan] came to council, the largest concern was domestic violence. Why are we looking at this instead?" she asked.

"If we had a homicide, for instance, VIMCU would be called in and we would be sent a bill," Siebring explained.

Domestic violence and major crimes can often be connected, he pointed out.

However, recent major homicide investigations have happened outside the borders of North Cowichan so the municipality hasn’t had to swallow those huge costs, he said, estimating that the total cost of outfitting and paying an officer would probably be close to $115,000 annually.