With its population finally tipping over 5,000, the City of Duncan will be required to help pay for its policing costs for the first time.
The city now has a population of 5,047, up from 4,944 in 2016, according to the 2021 Census information released on Feb. 9.
That means the city will now be required to pay 70 per cent of its policing costs, with the federal government paying the remaining 30 per cent, as required by the provincial Policing Act.
A statement from the city said that, given the pace of development in recent years, with an approximately 85 residential units added between the May 10, 2016 and May 11, 2021 Census dates, the city has been expecting its population to surpass 5,000 people.
While the population had remained below 5,000, the city’s policing costs were covered by the provincial government.
“It is important to note that the city paying for policing does not necessarily result in additional RCMP officers at the local detachment,” said Duncan’s CAO Peter de Verteuil.
“Any RCMP officers that the city becomes responsible for results in a corresponding decrease in the number of officers that the province is responsible for; it is a shift in who is covering the costs.”
In 2009, the city was required to start paying for policing based on provincial population estimates, but in 2012, the province determined that the city did not have to pay for policing as they began using the 2011 Census population information that stated its population was 4,932.
The province then refunded $1,351,519 the city had paid from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012.
The refund, along with the taxes the city continued to collect as a police-bridging capital levy, were placed into a reserve fund which has been used to pay for capital projects that would otherwise have required borrowing.
The reserve fund will be phased out while a municipal policing levy is phased in over 2022 and 2023.
The city will also now be required to negotiate with the province to determine how many police officers will be included in a policing agreement.
In addition, the city will need to negotiate with the Municipality of North Cowichan for the city’s proportional contributions to the operating costs of the RCMP detachment building, including future costs for the new approximately $48-million building under construction on Drinkwater Road.
Without any advance estimates from the province, the city’s draft 2022 budget, prepared in October of last year, assumed that starting in April, the city would be required to pay $169,312 per officer per year for eight officers.
This amount includes estimated amounts for transportation, equipment, training, and administration costs for each officer, as well as a portion of the operating costs for the detachment building.
The city was required to pay for eight officers in 2009.
The city’s budget calculations are estimates, and the total cost won’t be finalized until the conclusion of the negotiations.
The city has the option of creating its own police, but it would be responsible for 100 per cent of policing costs.