September 25, 2014 - 5:09 PM
WEST KELOWNA - Rising policing costs in West Kelowna was just one of the priorities discussed this week during a meeting with Ministers at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Whistler.
Local convention attendees included Mayor Doug Findlater and members of West Kelowna Council. The event gave representatives an opportunity for short, face-to-face meetings with B.C. cabinet ministers and representatives.
Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Minister of Justice, and ministry staff discussed the rising cost of policing many municipalities are facing.
“In the last two years, policing costs have rising over nine per cent a year,” Findlater said in a press release. “These are costs passed down from on-high and municipalities must scramble to find more funds to put towards what is usually a very large part of our budgets already.”
Findlater said West Kelowna council was advised that increasing costs are largely due to Federal funding cuts, passed down to the provinces and in turn municipalities. He said the district is aware much of the cost increases are due to additional services but wanted to know if Anton's ministry was considering a business case for a provincial police force.
"She said they have done some investigation into this, some of which is still ongoing, but they would face a 30 per cent federal funding cut if a provincial force was put into place," Findlater said.
Ministry staff told West Kelowna council members it would review the current portion of revenue West Kelowna receives from traffic fines; a portion council believes should be higher.
Also at the convention was Deputy Minister of Mines, Dave Nikolejsin, to discuss the need for a secure, secondary transmission line into communities on the west side of Okanagan Lake. Westbank First Nation, West Kelowna, Peachland and surrounding areas are currently served by B.C. Hydro with a single transmission line that serves about 60,000 residents. The single line was threatened by the Smith Creek Forest Fire this past summer.
“We have effectively politicized this long-time priority of West Kelowna Council with the promise from Premier Christy Clark at the height of the Smith Creek Fire to fix our single line problem,” Findlater said. “We understand that BC Hydro is conducting a cost and implication analysis on adding another line to the community, and today we received a commitment from the Ministry that it would press for a deadline for the results of that analysis. This is great news for us as we need the political backing to encourage BC Hydro to build an alternate line for the community.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014