Chilliwack puts more boots on the ground

Proposed tax increase will help pay for additional police resources

Chilliwack taxpayers were asked in a recent city survey if they would pay more for additional police resources.

They’re about to get their chance.

Council was poised to approve first readings of the city’s 2019 financial plan on Tuesday.

The plan includes the recruitment of six new RCMP members, along with administrative support. Additionally, two seasonal bylaw officers will become full time.

The increase is part of the reason the financial plan contains a 3.43 per cent tax hike.

Protective services already account for the greatest percentage of city expenses. Indeed, the city will spend close to $40 million on “protection to persons and property” this year – nearly twice as much as the next nearest category (recreation).

And while no one likes to pay more taxes, comments made during the recent municipal election indicate there is an appetite to spend more on police enforcement.

Granted, a increase in police spending is not the only reason for the tax increase. There are the usual inflationary pressures necessary to maintain services at current levels, plus the added expense of community amenities like the new third ice sheet at the Sardis Sports Complex (Twin Rinks).

What is clear, however, the fact the financial plan is a reaction to the increase in homelessness and the growing frustration with the garbage, drug use and property crimes often accompanying that reality.

Still, it would be a mistake to assume this is the only reason Chilliwack needs more police.

Not only is our population growing, the issues police deal with on a daily basis are becoming more complex. Case volumes have jumped, and the time needed to clear each file has increased.

Coupled with the fact that Chilliwack has been struggling to catch up with police resources it requires, it’s not surprising six additional officers are being hired.

The real question is will they be enough.

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