In a report to city council last month, a business case was presented showing the struggles the Campbell River RCMP detachment has been having due to its numbers and how they relate to the population growth in the community.
So when it came to 2018-2027 budget deliberations this week, staff was recommending the addition of one RCMP officer in 2019 and another in 2022 to spread out the tax implications of the cost to do so.
Council took that request one step further, however.
During the discussion surrounding increasing the staffing levels at the No. 2 Fire Hall in Willow Point, to the tune of $200,000, Mayor Andy Adams broke the tie vote by voting against the increase, citing the RCMP needs and the lack of funds available in the budget to do both of these important things.
“It’s a matter of choices,” Adams said. “And the choices here are the fire department or the RCMP, and we haven’t had an increase at the RCMP department since 2007. We have had significant increase in the population; we have had an increase in issues throughout the downtown core that have required attention; we have the opioid crisis that need assistance from our detachment to help with and we also have major crimes happening in our community that are under investigation.”
Adams also cited the seemingly-imminent legalization of marijuana, “that will put additional strain on an already-overworked RCMP detachment.”
The fire department, Adams said, received two new members last year – along with increased salaries and benefits – along with $100,000 in overtime payments.
“If you want to factor in the investment we made of $1.4 million for a new ladder truck and $900,000 for a new pumper truck,” Adams continued, “that’s a $2.8 million investment over the last 18 months. I think we need to put the focus on the RCMP for 2018 and 2019 and maybe look at the fire department again in 2020 to augment their services.”
When the discussion came to pass about the RCMP staffing increases, the staff recommendation for one additional officer in 2019 and another in 2022 quickly became one next year and another the year after.
Adding the funding in the budget for next year gives the city a chance to actually get another officer before the end of 2018 – it generally takes a full year from the time of the request to get one and you can’t even make the request for one without showing the money being in the budget.
Having money in the budget for another officer in 2019 means they can make that request at the same time and possibly have two more officers at the detachment as of some time in 2019.
The city did show the fire department some love, however, when it came time to discuss the rates at which auxiliary firefighters are compensated for their time.
The auxiliary firefighters were set to receive a $36,000 increase in their funding next year and then an additional increase of $30,000 in each of the following two years, but the item was “below the line” meaning council needed to bring it into the budget for that to actually happen.
They went ahead and did that, but they also increased the speed at which those increases happen.
Coun. Ron Kerr suggested spreading the 2020 increase of $30,000 between next year and 2019, meaning the auxiliary will receive $51,000 increase next year and another $45,000 the year after.
The rest of council agreed and the motion passed easily.