Province should consider alternatives to lessen big impact of policing costs

By on March 14, 2017

Dear Editor:

It’s not as if we didn’t know this was coming.

For many of us Osoyoos residents, it was like “waiting for the other shoe to drop” when it came to the inevitability of the increase in policing costs.

We knew what would happen when the census confirmed that we had reached a population exceeding 5,000 residents.

Now the soul searching and “how could the provincial government do this to us!” has begun. For those of us who understand that the budget of a town is no different than that which we all deal with on a monthly basis, it is ‘Finance 101.’

You have just so much income coming in and there should be just so much going out. Yes, there is longer term borrowing for items such as mortgages on our homes and shorter term borrowing for a car or a boat or updates to our homes, but overall we live within our income.

While the Town of Osoyoos council is to be commended for the funds that have been put aside for the eventual increase in policing costs, it amounts to too little, too late.

As residents, many of whom are on fixed income, we are facing a substantial increase in our respective tax bills.

Now in hindsight, while the majority of us agreed a new fire hall was a necessity, should we have expended $3-4 million. instead of $6 million, with a provision to add to the structure as funds permitted?

Should we be even thinking about projects like an aquatic centre?

The answer to these questions depends on your perspective and where you fit into the financial scale. It is the job of our elected officials to weigh all those factors and make budgetary decisions that are fair and equitable to all taxpayers.

As a designated Resort Municipality, should some of those funds spent for various tourism-related projects have been put aside for the increased policing costs?

Yes, I know the basis of that funding requires that it be tourism related. But how important is it to tourism that our visitors enjoy what our community has to offer in safety, provided by a full compliment of RCMP officers?

One is reminded of an old Aesop’s Fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The moral of that story was, “It is best to prepare for the day’s of necessity.”

As has been reported in the past, when the subject of the 5,000 population threshold was brought up at the Union of B.C. Municipalities, there were mixed responses.

The larger communities that don’t qualify for shared policing costs or have their own police force, said “too bad.”

The smaller communities that have faced and overcome the 5,000 population challenge were saying, “We had to do it, so you have to also”, like it was some sort of rite of passage.

Isn’t it time the provincial government made some accommodation for communities like ours to assist in the transition?

That could be in the form of a graduated increase over several years, instead of the present, all in one whack.

Or it could be in the form of a low interest loan paid back by taxpayers over a specified time.

The provincial government came through for our community when it created a special program to save Osoyoos Secondary School.

Couldn’t there be some innovative program to address this present dilemma?

Given the opening of the new jail in Oliver and the fact that community remains just under the threshold of 5,000 population in the last census, taxpayers in Oliver appear to be next ones to face this challenge.

Let’s hope a reasonable solution can be found in the meantime. Thank you for allowing me to express my views.

Derek Noske,

Osoyoos, B.C.

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One Comment

  1. Les Dewar

    March 15, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    I know nothing about the details of this, but would it be cheaper for us to have our own police force and not use the RCMP? Also, I understand that the RCMP here cover a huge area beyond the town limits. Do people who live outside of town help pay for that service, or is it just town people? Just asking.

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