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

West Shore resident, local officer encourages women to take control of their safety

Kris Greffard is posting short videos with safety tips for women using local trails and parks

Point Ellice House exhibit offers new lens into colonial history

The new ‘Politics of luxury’ display studies the wealthy O’Reilly family from several angles

Police and Indigenous communities pull together in 10-day canoe journey

Victoria Police Department, Ministry of Children and Family Development took part in Pulling Together Canoe Journey

Nearly a dozen coonhound puppies and their mother to reunite at Saanich park

Dogs’ former foster family initiated one-year reunion plans

Trio brings roller skating fever to Greater Victoria

Roller Skate Victoria offers workshops, summer camps and more

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

How much do you know about the moon?

To mark the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing, see how well you know space

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

Most Read