Recent History – 2001
Jan. 11, 2001, By Mark Nielsen, Daily News Staff
The Peace River Regional District’s effort to stay ahead of the changes the B.C. Liberals have in store for policing in the province gained general approval from about 60 regional politicians Thursday.
Although something that has been contemplated as far back as 1995, regionalized policing makes sense now more than ever, those who attended the presentation were told.
That’s because the B.C. Liberals plan to start directly charging municipalities under 5,000 residents and rural areas for the service.
Based on the assumptions about how much the province will charge, it is estimated that some $11.1 million be raised from PRRD residents.
But policing cost only $7.1 million last year, and is estimated to cost about $8 million by the time the province’s plan is implemented, meaning a leakage of about $3.1 million in revenue to Victoria.
In that light, members of the so-called 3M committee, made up of four administrators who are tackling the issue, said it makes sense to make policing a regional function.
Dawson Creek Mayor Wayne Dahlen agreed.
“By being proactive and coming in with a made-in-the Peace solution, we can save some money here,” he said.
An added incentive is the concern that the government may simultaneously cut back policing in rural areas by 25 per cent.
By taking over the responsibility, administrators said the Peace can ensure a level of policing that the province may not deliver, while keeping a significant portion of tax revenue within the region.
But some concern was raised, particularly by Dawson Creek rural director Albert Erbe who noted that rural areas may actually have to pay more for policing if the PRRD takes over than if the province implements new plans.
But administrators stressed that there is still time to work out a fair and equitable formula, and that what’s needed right now is approval for the effort from the B.C. Liberals.
They hope to gain that next week when the B.C. Liberal cabinet is in Fort St. John, where the pitch will be made.
Dahlen is confident that the B.C. Liberals will buy into the proposal.
“I think they can’t help but accept it because it does show that we are offering a solution,” he said. “We’re not coming to them whining and complaining that these cutbacks are going to hurt us. We’re being proactive.”