Penticton has officially hired three more police officers, bringing the total number of new officers coming to the city to seven.
However, it takes a long time to obtain an officer so they may not be seen in 2022. But the city confirmed a letter was sent Nov. 24 to the B.C. Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety requesting the additional officers, setting the plans in motion.
City council said they included the three officers in their 2022 budget to respond to the community’s call to action for more investment in protective services.
“Among the men and women who protect our community from crime, and among the families and businesses whose wellbeing, livelihoods and properties they work to keep safe, all have clearly and consistently said, more needs to occur now to address the disorder along our streets, in our parks and on our properties,” said mayor John Vassilaki.
Work is now underway to implement a suite of investments intended to address safety, said Vassilaki.
Boosting the RCMP detachment by three new police officers (bringing the increase of officers between 2021 and 2022 to seven), adding two new RCMP civilian staff, extending the operational hours and call capacity of the bylaw department and adding seven new resources, including five bylaw officers, two Community Safety Officers and an additional intake administrator for incoming calls and complaints.
The focus on public safety took place during council budget deliberations on Nov. 22 and 23.
Currently, there are 50 officers in Penticton. According to RCMP Supt. Brian Hunter, it takes anywhere from six months to a year for an officer to be hired and arrive at the detachment. Penticton detachment’s caseload is the highest in B.C.
So what will be the cost to residents and businesses?
For 2022, council has approved an overall tax increase of 5.7 per cent. In addition, council approved holding electric rates at 2021 levels. Homeowners will see an average annual increase in municipal taxes and utility fees totalling $103 for a typical residential property valued at $469,909 and an average annual increase in municipal taxes and utility fees totalling $934 for a typical business property valued at $1,188,696.
The final version of the financial plan will be formally adopted during a Special Council Meeting to be held in early December, said city communications manager Philip Cooper.
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