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Dawson Creek budget: No money for new cops, archivist in 2016

Hiring new police members, as well as an archivist, should be put off until the city of Dawson Creek's financial picture is rosier, the city's 2016 draft budget recommends.
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Hiring new police members, as well as an archivist, should be put off until the city of Dawson Creek's financial picture is rosier, the city's 2016 draft budget recommends.

The document, which was in front of city council at Monday's meeting, advises against adding any new services in 2016.

That includes a request from the Dawson Creek RCMP detachment to add two new members. Senior staff at the 25-member detachment brought the issue forward last November, after several high-profile violent incidents connected to a drug "war" in the region.

However, the draft budget recommends against raising the Dawson Creek detachment's full complement to 27 this year.

The city plans to spend $38.3 million on operations in 2016, a 2.3 per cent increase over 2015. Just over $4 million of that is set aside for police services.

Looming over budget discussions is the fiscal "gap" between the city's revenues and expenses. Several councillors are in favour of cutting non-essential services and limiting new ones in order to narrow the gap, which is growing due to inflation, collective agreements and other
pressures.

At the same time, police resources are strained due to an increase in crime, which some have linked to a downturn in the regional economy.

Dawson Creek Mounties responded to 9,708 calls for service last year, up from 9,007 the year before. In 2013, the last time the detachment added members, calls for service sat at 8,109.

Also in the background is the city's policing agreement with the province and federal government. The city will have to take on 90 per cent of the cost of its police service if it grows larger than 15,000 people, which is projected to happen in 2020. That would mean another $1.17 million in police costs.

Currently, Dawson Creek pays only 70 per cent of the cost of the detachment.

 

Archivist on ice

A request to hire an archivist looks like it will sit on the shelf as well.

The South Peace Historical Society has been in front of council several times in the past year to ask for funds for a professional archivist.

The society moved into a new facility at the Calvin Kruk Centre after the building was renovated in 2014. However, the all-volunteer staff at the archives is aging, leaving the future of the historic documents in doubt.

The society's Stewart and Marg Flinn were in front of council Monday to repeat their request for professional help.

The two requested a $20,000 to $30,000 fee for service from the city to help pay a professional archivist. However, the draft budget also recommends deferring that request.

 

Have your say

The first public consultation on the budget is set for March 8, 2016, at the Calvin Kruk Centre. Another will be held April 26 at 7 p.m.

The city must submit its budget to the province by mid-May.

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