Kelowna continues to play catch up with plans to hire more RCMP officers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna continues to play catch up with plans to hire more RCMP officers

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December 11, 2020 - 8:35 AM

The eight new RCMP officers approved for Kelowna for 2021 will only maintain current staffing levels and do nothing to catch up on the shortfall the local detachment chronically faces.

Last year, the City approved 11 new officers for this year but they won’t likely to be on the job until January. The eight new ones approved for 2021 may be in place by the fall, but that’s not likely, Mayor Colin Basran said during budget discussions yesterday, Dec. 10.

RCMP Supt. Kara Triance said the City has one officer per 700 residents. The eight new ones will maintain that ratio given population growth.

Coun. Gail Given pointed out that Kelowna is different from many cities because of the huge influx of tourists every year, so asked about the case load local officers carry.

“We’re statistically higher than any other community of a comparable staffing number,” Supt. Triance said. “The visitor population no doubt influences that.”

She took charge of the Kelowna detachment in October so is working on a five-year staffing plan.

"An external report was done that articulates that Kelowna has some catchup to do," she said. "In my opinion we need to critically address our ability to be responsive on the front line."

The RCMP's last five-year plan, presented to council in November, 2019, said 56 new officers and 28 civilians needed to be hired in the next five years.

READ MORE: New report says dozens more RCMP officers are needed in Kelowna

The eight officers will cost $1.5 million when they work for a full year in 2022.

"We need to catch up and then keep up," City Manager Doug Gichrist said. "Council and the public (can) expect, every year, there will be officers that might be required. You think of a two to three per cent growth rate and we’re somewhat understaffed already, We’ll need four to six officers a year every year just to keep up with a growing community, once we hit a threshold where we’re satisfied that it’s fully resourced."

At the end of the budget discussion day, council was able to drop the proposed tax increase slightly to 4.04 per cent from a hike originally forecast at 4.27 per cent.

Even at four per cent, Coun. Mohini Singh called it a bare bones budget and Coun. Luke Stack pointed out it would have been tough keep it in that range if the City hadn’t been given a $7.8 million COVID-19 Restart grant from senior governments.

The final budget figure will be set in the spring.


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