City to Pay for Policing
The City of Duncan now has a population of 5,047 (up from 4,944 in 2016), according to the 2021 Census information released on February 9, 2022. Given the pace of development in recent years, with an approximately 85 residential units added between the May 10, 2016 and May 11, 2021 Census dates, the City has been expecting its population to surpass 5,000 people. The City will now be required to pay 70 percent of policing costs with the federal government paying the remaining 30 percent, as required by the provincial Policing Act, if the City utilizes the RCMP. If the City creates a municipal police force, like a select number of municipalities, it would be responsible for 100 percent of policing costs.
While the population has remained below 5,000, the City’s policing costs were covered by the provincial government; however, in 2009, the City was required to start paying for policing based on provincial population estimates. In 2012, the province determined that the City did not have to pay for policing as they were now using the 2011 Census population information (pop. 4,932). The province refunded $1,351,519 the City had paid from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2012. The refund, along with the taxes the City continued to collect as a Police Bridging Capital levy, were placed into a reserve fund, which has been used to pay for capital projects that would otherwise have required borrowing. This reserve fund will be phased out while a Municipal Policing Levy is phased in over 2022 and 2023.
“It is important to note that the City paying for policing does not necessarily result in additional RCMP officers at the local detachment,” stated Peter de Verteuil, Chief Administrative Officer. “Any RCMP officers that the City becomes responsible for results in a corresponding decrease in the number of officers that the province is responsible for; it is a shift in who is covering the costs.”
The City will now be required to negotiate with the province to determine how many police officers will be included in a policing agreement. In addition, the City will need to negotiate with the Municipality of North Cowichan for the City’s proportional contributions to the operating costs of the RCMP detachment building, including future costs for the new building under construction on Drinkwater Road. Without any advance estimates from the province, the City’s draft 2022 budget, prepared in October of last year, assumed that starting in April 2022, the City would be required to pay $169,312 per officer per year for eight officers. This amount includes estimated amounts for transportation, equipment, training, and administration costs for each officer, as well as a portion of the operating costs for the detachment building. The City was required to pay for eight officers in 2009. The City’s budget calculations are estimates and the total cost will not be finalized until the conclusion of the negotiations.