March 19, 2015 - 7:29 PM
PENTICTON - The South Okanagan’s new correctional facility is barely under construction, but already causing policing issues in the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen.
The regional district board is concerned about an increased need for police officers in the South Okanagan as construction on the corrections facility in Oliver ramps up.
Chief Administrative Officer Bill Newell told the board during a Protective Services Committee meeting on March 19 the Town of Oliver recently passed a resolution requesting additional policing resources from the Attorney General and said it was time for the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen to “get on record” again.
Newell said regional district member municipalities have a number of policing contracts, noting municipalities exceeding 5,000 residents enter into municipal policing contracts directly with the RCMP and have some discretion as to how many members they employ in their detachments. Municipalities under 5,000 and rural areas contract police under provincial jurisdiction, leaving it to the Attorney General to decide policing numbers. Newell said ongoing discussions with the Attorney General’s office about increasing police staffing in these areas had not been successful.
Oliver Director Mayor Ron Hovanes said he didn’t want to see additional policing needs stemming from the construction or operation of the new correctional facility to be “borne on the backs of Oliver taxpayers.” He said he tried to convey those thoughts in a recent letter sent to the Attorney General’s office.
Hovanes added he was hoping for more dialogue from the province, noting the correctional facility’s policing needs were a separate component from Oliver’s policing needs.
“I’m just hoping we can get some more serious dialogue, because they don’t seem to grasp where we’re coming from,” said Director Hovanes.
“On the administrative recommendation, what we’re saying is the Attorney General should do a study, if they’re not going to put more resources in the budget, they should at least do a study to identify the effects of this seven acre facility on these areas,” said Newell.
The board agreed to petition the Attorney General to conduct a study of the impact of the B.C. Corrections Facility under construction in Gallagher Lake on rural policing requirements in the South Okanagan in a unanimous decision.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015