As neighbouring municipalities vote on funding a new RCMP building, Metchosin is still working out how it will pay for its policing.
The district is now on the hook for 70 per cent of its policing costs after the 2021 census results had Metchosin’s population at 5,067, surpassing the 5,000 threshold. The remainder is paid by the federal government.
Metchosin has been on the hook for covering the costs of its police services since April 1, 2022, with reserve funds covering those costs. Exactly how much policing will cost is still being determined. Negotiations are ongoing and the district is also in the middle of its budgetary process.
Back in May 2022, Todd Preston, superintendent for West Shore RCMP, presented three options for the district council: join with West Shore RCMP, form its own detachment or join with another detachment like Sooke RCMP.
Preston said that for a community of its size, Metchosin would need a ratio of one police officer for every 875 people, meaning the district would need to pay for six officers. Added to those costs are two support staff (the ratio for officers to support staff is 3:1), a number of service costs that come with being within the West Shore RCMP detachment and 5.8 per cent of the rental costs of the West Shore RCMP detachment as office space for those staff. At $200,000 per officer (30 per cent covered by the federal government), plus $60,000 to $70,000 for each support staff (100 per cent Metchosin), the costs would come to just under $1 million.
It’s not clear what option the current Metchosin council will pick.
Preston said West Shore’s funding model allows the costs of expensive services to be spread out, like police dogs and an insurance program that helps cover expenses associated with big investigations.
Former Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said during the same meeting that the insurance program’s importance was highlighted when Metchosin had a murder investigation in 2021 that included extensive costs, adding that makes joining with Sooke RCMP less desirable since they don’t pay into that program.
In a previous interview with Black Press Media, Ranns said council would have three choices to pay for policing: a tax increase, boost residential development to increase Metchosin’s population – which Ranns ruled out – or approve industrial zoning projects, something Ranns called the “Highlands model.” He added any decision would go to a referendum and ultimately be made by council.
Colwood and View Royal recently voted in favour of providing funding that would see plans for a new West Shore RCMP detachment building move to the validation stage – where they start looking at designs. Langford is yet to vote on whether to give its share of the funding. The proposed $82 million new detachment is to help the detachment keep pace with its operational requirements as the West Shore’s population grows.
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