Local projects in Penticton will benefit from nearly $231,000 in traffic fines being returned to the community through the B.C. government’s Strategic Community Investment Fund (SCIF).
The fund will also be delivering $36,198 in traffic fine revenue to Summerland along with a $168,084 small communities grant. The Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen will get a further $78,086 from the same source.
This is just a small portion of the $56.2 million the province is doling out to B.C. communities through the SCIF to invest in policing and community safety, services and high priority municipal projects. Since 2009, the province has disbursed more than $600 million through the SCIF.
“These funds help local governments invest in priority projects that benefit everyone,” said Penticton MLA Dan Ashton. “They also support day-to-day operations and services that local residents rely on.”
Municipalities will receive $31.1 million in traffic fine revenue sharing with $28.4 million directed to communities with over 5,000 people to help offset the cost of policing and community safety. Smaller municipalities and unincorporated rural areas will receive a $2.7 million reduction in their provincial police property tax.
Municipalities with populations under 20,000 share $23 million in small community grants, specifically meant to help address infrastructure and service delivery priorities.
“The Strategic Community Investment Fund is all about creating safer, healthier, more liveable communities that allow B.C. families to thrive,” said Coralee Oakes, minister of community, sport and cultural development.
For smaller communities in particular, the fund often represents a major portion of their operating budget. This is money in the hands of local governments to provide local programs and services and to invest in community safety.
The small community grant and regional district basic grant assist local governments in providing basic services, while the traffic fine revenue sharing program assists eligible municipalities paying police enforcement costs. The grants come from ticket fines and court-imposed fines on violation tickets, and the amount of money a municipality receives is based on its contribution to total municipal policing costs.
Previous years’ traffic fine revenue has been used for more policing, new equipment and increased community safety initiatives.
“Returning traffic fine revenue to B.C. municipalities has put hundreds of millions of dollars back into communities,” said Suzanne Anton, attorney general and minister of justice.
“The funds help communities support local police services and crime prevention programs, and give the communities the discretion to allocate that money in ways they believe will be most beneficial.”