Kelowna News

West Kelowna looking for answers from province on policing levels

WEST KELOWNA – City of West Kelowna officials appear to be tired of waiting for a review of the RCMP staffing levels on the west side of Okanagan Lake.

West Kelowna took on the cost of their share RCMP operations eight years ago.

“In 2010, when we took over the provincial force, they made a commitment to maintain their side of things,” West Kelowna chief administrative officer Jim Zaffino told today, Nov. 6. “Since then, we’ve added eight RCMP officers. They (the province) haven’t added any.”

The integrated force in covers everything from Peachland to Sunset Main on the Okanagan Connector, to Lake Okanagan Resort on Westside Road, as well as Westbank First Nations lands, Big White and Joe Rich.

Right now, West Kelowna is paying $4 million a year for 28 RCMP officers. The province is responsible for the cost of 20 more. Two of those officers are stationed on the east side of the lake to service Joe Rich and Big White. Four more officers are dedicated to Peachland. That leaves 14 officers working in West Kelowna, although 28 are paid by the city.

Since it’s an integrated force, it’s not a simple matter to determine whether West Kelowna is subsidizing the provincial component of the force.

For the past three years West Kelowna has been pushing for a review of staffing levels at the detachment.

In July, West Kelowna wrote to the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth asking for the review. Mayor Doug Findlater met with Farnworth at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in September.

A letter from Farnworth is going to the inaugural meeting of council today responding to that request.

“This letter is confirming he (Farnworth) is making them (RCMP) do it,” Zaffino said. “But he said he same thing last year. To be fair, E Division (the B.C. branch of the RCMP) said they were too busy to do it.”

Zaffino was to meet with the West Kelowna staff sergeant this morning with a request for a specific time line for the review. He expects that request to be passed up the line to the RCMP superintendent in Kelowna then on to E Division.

Even so, West Kelowna council will be asked to add even more RCMP officers during budget debates Dec. 11.

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