Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall spoke against hiring more police officers. (THE NEWS/files)

Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall spoke against hiring more police officers. (THE NEWS/files)

Pitt Meadows council approves 5.58 per cent budget increase

Police officer won’t be added this year, no staffing increase built in

Pitt Meadows council has approved a 5.58 per cent operating budget increase for 2019.

In approving its 2019 budget, council opted not to hire another RCMP officer this year, nor will it build in three more officers to be hired every third year, starting in 2019.

In making her case for staffing increases, Ridge Meadows RCMP Supt. Jennifer Hyland talked about changes in law and greater complexity in enforcement that takes time away from officers.

She said with the RCMP moving to a union, she is anticipating changes. She said the one member proposed in 2019 would “beef up traffic services and enforcement” in Pitt Meadows, at a cost of $166,000 per year.

The detachment commander wanted to add another officer every third year, starting with the 2022 budget. She noted there are a corporal and two general duty constables in the community 100 per cent of the time. However, she noted that officers are often away on leave, taking courses or off sick, which reduced the number of general duty officers to two.

She suggested council increase each of four watches by one member to ensure there are generally at least three in the community providing a uniformed presence.

However, Mayor Bill Dingwall, a retired RCMP officer who once worked in Hyland’s position, spoke against hiring an officer this year, and building in staff increases. He noted this year’s hiring would take the city above the 5.58 per cent tax increase.

Speaking about the existing resourcing levels, Dingwall said he is “fairly happy with where we’re at,” noting the city pays for 23 members who service Pitt Meadows.

“That was my world, but I’m thinking we have sufficient officers …” he said, adding the city could do more.

“But it all comes at a cost.”

As to the request to “slot in a member every couple of years,” Dingwall said he is not in favour of that approach.

“For me, it’s important to hear on a year-by-year basis in terms of need, and criminal caseload per member, and police to population, and really around the business case for supporting additional members. And they are costly.”

Dingwall said the police-to-population ratio will never see dramatic increases, based on slow growth projects for the city. The population will max out at 25,000 in 2040, which is 5,500 more than now. So a staffing increase does not need to be built in.

He noted that council addressed the need for more firefighters this year, adding two, and needs to balance all of the city’s resourcing needs.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita said she did not like the idea of committing a future council to the hirings.

CAO Mark Roberts said giving police a build-in staff increase would be a different approach from all other city departments. Roberts added that two years ago, police implemented a new model where they stop and start shifts at the Pitt Meadows community police office, so there is a greater police presence.

Coun. Gwen O’Connell said having a police officer on every corner would still not eliminate crime, and said it is not realistic to build in automatic hires. She said the RCMP are visible and she is happy with the job they are doing, and looks forward to seeing more on bikes or on foot in the downtown area.

The 5.58 percent increase is an additional $170 for the average single-family home ($98 for a multi-family home). The city says 55 percent of the increase is outside of the city’s control and is attributed to contracted services such as Metro Vancouver utility costs, RCMP, Fraser Valley Regional Library and the new Provincial Employer Health Tax.

“A significant portion of the 2019 increase is imposed on the city,” said Dingwall. “All councils in the region are faced with the same issues, such as the new Provincial Employer Health Tax and increases to utility costs.”

Council also approved Bonson Road repairs south of Airport Way, near the Katzie reserve, at a cost of $280,000 from transportation reserves.

Dingall noted the city had a four-hour meeting with Katzie, and damage to the road by trucks was one of the issues brought forward.

“We are actively engaged with them, to hopefully address this component in the future,” said Dingwall. “We’re midstream, dealing with that.”

Council voted to continue with its current fire department communications system, which utilizes a repeater in UBC’s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest.

Acting fire chief Brad Perrie noted UBC is not happy with exposed power lines for the equipment, and they may have to be buried at a cost of about $250,000, or solar power with generator backup installed at a cost approximately $100,000.

Council will defer the decision, and bring it back to 2020 business planning, directing staff to research the financial and practical implications of transitioning to the E-Comm Radio System in 2020, which is used by surrounding cities, as well as any other viable options.

The financial plan and utility fee bylaws will both be back before council on March 12 for third reading, and adoption on March 19.

Just Posted

Vanessa Barrett is competing to be the face of fitness for a health and bodybuilding magazine. (Vanessa Barrett/Special to the Maple Ridge News)
Ridge fitness champ aims to become face of magazine

Vanessa Barrett wants to add ‘Ms Fitness’ to her titles of entrepreneur and mom

A Nova Scotia court has overturned the conviction of a man with ties to Maple Ridge. (Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)
Conviction thrown out for supposed leader of Maple Ridge cannabis smuggling conspiracy

A Nova Scotia appeals court found there wasn’t enough evidence and quashed a four-year sentence

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Darryl Mazor share a photo of his 78-year-old mother, Rena Mazor, singing to her 45-year-old cockatoo, Sassie. (Special to The News)
PHOTOS: Only one Fab Senior could win…

But there were more than a dozen worthy seniors who were entered in the photo contest

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctors urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

Most Read