Number of RCMP members in Comox Valley unchanged

Like the past few fiscal years, the local police force is set to remain at 30.4 members, though it had appeared the force would increase by one member.

The RCMP had requested an additional member, but Courtenay council has opted to maintain the status quo.

Comox council also chose to maintain its established police strength at 11.6 members after the Town had also been asked to bump its force by a member.

The 2014/15 police budget is estimated to exceed $5.3 million. Courtenay funds 90 per cent of the budget — nearly $4.8 million — which is about 20 per cent of the City's annual operating budget.

Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula is irked by an RCMP funding formula that makes Courtenay pay the lion's share of local policing costs.

For Courtenay and other towns with populations exceeding 15,000, municipalities fund 90 per cent of a policing budget while the federal government kicks in 10 per cent of costs. The municipal/federal split is 70/30 for populations between 5,000 and 15,000 people.

Coun. Starr Winchester suggests meeting with the Province to discuss the fairness, or lack thereof, in the funding split.

"We need to ask government to take a second look at how police funding is allocated," Jangula said Monday.

Coun. Bill Anglin had supported a second option to increase the established strength by one member, which would bump the police budget to nearly $5.5 million.

"It's easy to rest on our laurels because the crime rate in the City of Courtenay is not bad," he said, noting public safety is a big part of council's mandate.

Jon Ambler said council can revisit the first option of maintaining the 30.4 member force within the next year.

Council needs to make a final decision on the police expenditure cap for the coming fiscal year by May 5.


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