The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment will be getting two new officers in November to help keep up with increased workloads.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said he was informed of the decision at last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver in a meeting with Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
Siebring said the province has agreed to pay the costs of the officers, totalling approximately $360,000 when the price tag for training, equipment, pay and other factors are considered.
“For me, finding out that the province is paying for the officers and not the municipality was one of the best parts of the announcement,” he said.
“It certainly paid for the trip that council members made to the UBCM conference.”
The North Cowichan/Duncan detachment currently employs 60 RCMP officers, of which 32 are paid for by North Cowichan, 24 by the province and four from First Nations Community Policing.
Inspector Chris Bear, head of the detachment, and his predecessor Inspector Ray Carfantan, have been asking to have the number of officers increased for years, citing increased workloads.
Carfantan told council in 2017 that up to four additional officers needed to be added to the 59 officers that were at the detachment at the time, and North Cowichan agreed to fund one new officer in 2018 as a result.
Further decisions on bringing in more officers were on hold until a staffing analysis, one of the first of its kind on the Island, at the detachment to determine its staffing requirements was completed.
Siebring said the staffing analysis was recently finalized.
“Our police services will certainly be in a better shape than they were with the arrival of the new officers, but there are still some ongoing discussions about increased workloads for the RCMP,” he said.
“The question of bringing more officers here may have to wait until after the next census in Canada (scheduled for 2021) when it would have to be determined who is responsible for funding, and how much, if Duncan’s population exceeds 5,000 people.”
Under the policing agreement with the province, Victoria pays for all the policing costs for communities under 5,000 people, and communities with more than 5,000 people pay for 90 per cent of their costs.
Duncan’s population has been wavering just under 5,000 for years but if the city exceeds that number after the next census, it will be expected to contribute to its policing costs for the first time.