Crime rates in Saanich continue to decline as part of larger regional and provincial trends, and a citizens group wonders why Saanich Police continues to ask for more money. (Black Press File).

Saanich’s provisional police budget under fire

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria question why budget requests are rising as crime drops

A local citizens group has raised questions about the substance and process of Saanich’s police budget.

Laurie and Bruce Kennedy of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria have questioned why Saanich’s provisional police budget is adding staff, just as crime rates are dropping.

“We are concerned that the cost of policing is increasing at an unsustainable rate,” they write in an email to Police Chief Bob Downie, the Saanich police board and members of Saanich council.

This year’s provisional police budget calls for an additional $1.668 million in funding — an increase of 4.97 per cent over last year’s budget. Last year’s submission caused considerable political strife between Saanich council and police.

RELATED: Saanich Police warn of “unacceptable service reductions”

RELATED: Saanich police board insists on provisional budget

RELATED: Saanich raises property taxes by 3.07 per cent during final budget talks

The department’s submission states that it “faces significant pressures to provide adequate police services” to the municipality and the region at large, noting that jurisdictions across Canada recorded an increase after more than a decade of dropping rates. Specifically, the report cited 2015.

According to Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, all Criminal Code violations (excluding traffic) rose 9.5 per cent in Saanich. The report, however, does not appear to mention that crime rates have been dropping again since 2015, first by 5.61 per cent in 2016 and 3.88 per cent in 2017.

The report submitted in late 2018 also said that service calls have been rising following a decline between 2006 and 2014. “Saanich saw a 20 per cent increase in calls for service between 2014 (25,555) and 2017 (30,834), and this is projected to increase to 25 per cent by the end of 2018,” it reads.

The Kennedys, however, question the argument that the requested increase is justifiable in light of the available figures that not only measure crime but also citizens satisfaction with existing police services. Specifically, they point to the Crime Severity Index, a Statistics Canada measure of all police-reported crime, which takes into consideration both the volume and seriousness of offences. In 2014, it stood at 41.07 out of 100. By 2017, it had dropped to 37.36. By comparison, the provincial figure has barely budged. In 2014, it stood at 88.48, rising to 88.93 in 2017.

The Kennedys also cite Saanich’s citizen and business survey that shows 97 per cent of survey respondents were satisfied with the quality of police services in Saanich.

“Can the Chief [Bob Downie] explain, given the declining crime rate and the level of citizen satisfaction, why 12 additional staff [with nine full-time positions] is needed in this budget year?” the Kennedys write. “This suggests a crisis that we are not seeing.”

RELATED: Crime rate drops in 2017 across Greater Victoria

The Kennedys said they wrote the note to give Downie “ample” time to consider their questions, as Saanich’s coming budget process has “provided insufficient time and opportunity” to ask some “basic questions” about the provisional budget.

While multiple speakers could ask these questions, their questions would be disjointed and convey an “aggressive image,” they write.

Saanich budget discussions start Feb. 26 with three days of presentations from various departments including protective services running until Feb. 28. Four sessions are also scheduled for March.

The Saanich News has asked Saanich Police for official comment and will update the story accordingly.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Saanich Fire celebrates 100th anniversary with party

Simulations, prizes, cake and more at No. 1 hall

Victoria Foundation thrilled to see sun shine on B.C.’s philanthropists, builders

Province declares September ‘Community Foundations Month’

100 art pieces donated for fundraiser supporting refugee family new to Victoria

Saanich fundraiser will see every participant go home with a new piece of art

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Central Saanich strawberry farmer reports bumper crop

Strawberry season could last well into October

VIDEO: Greater Victoria, here’s the news you missed this weekend

Tragic bus crash, Pacific FC win and Terry Fox runs

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Federal party leaders address gun violence after weekend shooting near Toronto

One teen was killed and five people injured in the shooting

Scheer makes quick campaign stop in Comox

Conservative leader highlights tax promises early in campaign

Conservatives promise tax cut that they say will address Liberal increases

Scheer says the cut would apply to the lowest income bracket

B.C. VIEWS: Cutting wood waste produces some bleeding

Value-added industry slowly grows as big sawmills close

Fewer trees, higher costs blamed for devastating downturn in B.C. forestry

Some say the high cost of logs is the major cause of the industry’s decline in B.C.

Federal food safety watchdog says batch of baby formula recalled

The agency says it’s conducting a food safety investigation

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Most Read