RCMP makes case for more officers on Coast

Councillors on Sechelt’s committee of the whole are recommending approval in principle of a request for an additional municipally funded RCMP officer.

The current Sunshine Coast detachment is a mix of municipal officers, paid for directly by the district, and officers paid for through the rural policing contract with the province, and the detachment is also hoping to get two more provincially funded officers.

Mayor Darnelda Siegers said at the Oct. 14 committee meeting that she’s ready to support the request for the additional municipal officer.

According to the RCMP, the anticipated cost associated with each municipal officer in fiscal 2021-22 will be approximately $186,559, with the district covering 70 per cent.

A final decision will be made during the upcoming budget discussions.

In a presentation to a committee of Gibsons council Oct. 20, Staff Sgt. Poppy Hallam said she is also preparing a business case for two additional provincially funded officers.

She said an increase in mental health related calls, the need to use RCMP marine vessels and water taxis to respond to some calls and other issues unique to policing the Sunshine Coast, such as a lack of access to overtime resources from neighbouring detachments on short notice, all point to need for additional staffing.

According to Hallam, the last time the Sunshine Coast detachment was approved for additional provincially funded officers was 2007. The District of Sechelt approved one new municipal officer in 2009.

Open letter

Siegers addressed concerns about public safety in an open letter to Sechelt residents released Oct. 20.

“I want you to know that we’ve heard you, and tell you what we are doing to address it,” Siegers wrote. “With many of our most vulnerable gathering in a small area downtown, calls for service in that area have increased significantly since 2018. We are also seeing more auto and bike theft and break-and-enters across the Coast than in past years. Assaults are also at an all-time high.”

Siegers said crime and other public safety issues were the subject of a recent meeting between district officials, RCMP, Vancouver Coastal Health’s Public Health and Mental Health and Addictions units, RainCity Housing, Community Services, Gibsons, and the Sunshine Coast Regional District.

Siegers’ message can be read here.

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