Kelowna mayor defends city’s handling of policing after report finds detachment understaffed

Kelowna’s mayor expects the city to increase police resources, after a consultant’s report found the local RCMP detachment to be seriously understaffed.

Mayor Colin Basran said it was “absolutely awful to hear” from the report’s co-author that some criminal cases, including some cases of child abuse, domestic violence and assault, are not being investigated because of a lack of staff.

“We have a budget coming up where we will be asked to increase the resources for RCMP. I suspect that council will do that,” Basran said.

“We’ll continue to do what we can to bolster their service so that files like that aren’t left and that people can get the help that they need.”

However, Basran defended the city’s previous handing of the file and said Kelowna did not get to this point because administration was ignoring the issue.

The mayor said the city has hired around 40 officers in the last five to six years.

“This is something we’ve known has been an issue. It has been something that we have been trying to address year after year after year, but what this report tells us is it is clearly not enough,” Basran said.

Instead, Basran suggested the city’s growing policing needs were, in part, due to the growing population of the area and the emergence of more complex social issues in the community.

The consultant’s report, commissioned by a senior City of Kelowna staff member, recommended the city hire 56 additional police officers and 28 civilian staff by 2025, a step that is expected to cost more than $12 million.

Basran indicated that he is in favour of adding more police resources, but wouldn’t commit to adding the total number of new staff recommended.

Details of how many officers will be hired and when will likely not be known until after city council completes budget deliberations in December and a staff report on implementing the recommendations is presented to council next year.

Exactly how the city will pay for the added RCMP officers still needs to be determined.

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