Penticton council takes stand on rising RCMP costs

Council voted unanimously to send a formal letter to Attorney General Suzanne Anton.

City manager Annette Antoniak wants Penticton city council to take a stand against ever increasing policing costs.

Superintendent Kevin Hewco gave council an overview of the Penticton RCMP budget for 2015 Tuesday, showing an increase in policing costs of $193,772. Adding that to large increases in previous years prompted Antoniak to advise council to take some action, pointing out that neither Hewco nor the city had control over many of the line items.

“In my four years here, I have seen this RCMP budget increase substantially and I would like to recommend that council write a letter to the attorney general who actually negotiates the contract with the federal government,” said Antoniak. “When you see the mounting increase for which we have no control, we need to register this is not OK.”

Antoniak pointed out line items that have increased substantially, including $27,624 for the police dog, which was downloaded to the city this year, a 33 per cent increase in costs for the public complaints committee and a 39 per cent increase for enhanced reporting and accountability, which, according to Antoniak, “there doesn’t seem to be any accountability for what that is.”

“I really can’t explain that one to you, so I am not going to try to, however I will seek a better explanation of what that is,” admitted Hewco as he went through the increases.

“These are huge increases. We have no say and this is just going to increase over time,” said Antoniak.

Hewco admitted to having concerns about how the RCMP budget is handled.

“I share the city manager’s position on that as a civilian, not with my official hat,” said Hewco, adding he finds the situation problematic as a detachment commander. “If we are going to have to download costs or share them, for goodness sake, let’s do some consultation so the city can plan.”

Council voted unanimously to send a formal letter to Attorney General Suzanne Anton.

“The contact was renewed in 2012. There is recourse in that contract in order to do conflict resolution,” said Hewco. “I don’t disagree with your plan of action.”