The possibility of raising fees for late night club openings in Penticton faded away without comment at city council’s regular meeting Monday.
Earlier this month, council had been considering upping the fees for clubs like The Mule, which had already been approved for 16 openings until 4 a.m. this year. Council debated raising the fees, which cover extended policing costs, to $24,000 — an average of $1,600 per evening, or a 400 per cent increase over the current $300 charge.
RCMP Insp. Brad Haugli agreed their costs might be as high as $1,600, but told council Monday that he was not advocating a change in fee structure.
“The debate came up on RCMP costs with a number floated out there of $1,600 per evening,” said Haugli. “I wish to apologize for the miscommunication, which I will take responsibility for. I had no intention for the rates to go up from $300.”
Analysis of crime stats on nights when nightclubs have had 4 a.m. closures show a “marked increase in calls,” according to Haugli. But, he continued, the increased calls can’t be linked directly to the establishments in question, so it is appropriate to use the RCMP’s overtime budget to cover extra policing costs.
“I can assure you that we, the RCMP, will continue to work with The Mule and the Downtown Penticton Association in ensuring that we have a safe community for those late night evenings,” said Haugli.
And those costs could be considerable higher or lower than the $1,600 figure that was being debated.
“We plan effectively, we plan with other community partners … and we take intelligence into regard. It’s not necessarily going to be $1,600, that was a figure that was provided for your knowledge and I didn’t expect that would be a charge back to the licensee,” said Haugli. “The charge that I might have to incur might be greater, given that we may have an organized crime gang come into our community for one of these events. I need to plan accordingly, which might mean substantially more than $1,600.”
The motion that council support the existing fee of $300 for RCMP costs associated with the late night openings passed without comment other than Coun. Judy Sentes complimenting Haugli on his diligence.