Penticton will be getting two more RCMP officers, but not until 2022.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, council unanimously approved Mayor John Vassilaki’s notice of motion to add funding for the officers to the planning for 2021’s budget.
“I am only asking for two additional officers, and that is only 10 per cent of what is required, to improve community safety somewhat,” said Vassilaki.
The City of Penticton currently funds 48 mounties for the detachment.
According to the 2018 Municipal Police Statistics, the most recent information available, Penticton had a caseload overage of 113 per officer, higher than any other city of 15,000 population and over.
It was reported by The Western News in April that the Penticton detachment of the RCMP would require an additional 42 officers to reduce the case load for each officer down to meet the provincial average.
The cost to the city and taxpayers for the two Mounties will be an estimated $360,000, however, that is not expected to be part of the budget until 2022 when the officers are assigned.
City staff confirmed that the two mounties approved in this motion would be in addition to the one mountie in the 2020-24 financial plan, bringing the total to three additional mounties in 2022.
The additional Mounties are considered part of the 2021-2025 financial plan.
The mayor’s other request, for two additional bylaw officers and an extension to the hours bylaw works, was defeated in a 4-2 vote. Coun. Campbell Watt supported the mayor’s proposal.
The city has increased the amount of bylaw staff over the last three years from three bylaw officers and a supervisor to six bylaw officers, five relief officers, a supervisor and an intake clerk according to the city’s report.
In order to meet the mayor’s requested full seven-day-a-week coverage and staffing until 2 a.m., the city estimated that would require four additional bylaw officers instead of two, for a cost of $340,000 a year.
The council instead asked that the city speak with the bylaw officers’ union about the potential for a change to shift based schedules that would allow them to cover the entire week.