BC government orders City of Vancouver to reverse $5.7 million VPD budget cut

Mar 15 2022, 7:28 pm

The provincial government ruled on Monday that the City of Vancouver is required to restore $5.7 million in the Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) 2021 budget, which was removed by a Vancouver City Council decision in December 2020.

At the time of the decision, city council voted to approve a budget of $316 million, which the VPD said would result in 61 fewer police recruits being hired over the course of the year. City council was faced with the task of balancing budgetary constraints due to the pandemic’s impact on the municipal government’s revenues as well as growing calls by the movement to defund the police.

By removing $5.7 million, it meant the VPD was left with a status quo budget for 2021.

But the VPD, in its arguments to the province for an appeal, says it needs this budget restoration to help address its attrition of officers from both retirement and departures to join the brand new Surrey Police Service (SPS). As of Fall 2021, the VPD had already lost nearly two dozen of its officers to the SPS.

There have also been growing public safety concerns from a surge in violent street crime, anti-Asian hate crimes, gang conflicts, and the costly vandalism of businesses and public property, as well as direct police responses to the growing incidents relating to opioid addictions and mental health.

As well, the VPD says it has deployed officers to help maintain public order and traffic control for nearly 1,000 protests since city council made the decision to cut its budget.

“I am committed to ensuring everyone feels safe again, and I have every confidence that a fully funded Vancouver Police Department can continue to combat the public safety challenges we face,” said VPD Chief Adam Palmer in a statement on Monday in response to the decision by the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and the Director of Police Services.

“I am tremendously proud of the sacrifices our sworn officers and civilian professionals make to serve the citizens of Vancouver. Every day, our officers do an incredible job in very challenging situations to protect others and to keep the city safe. I am very proud of the work the men and women of the Vancouver Police Department do. I also want to thank the city’s many residents, business owners, and visitors for their patience and encouragement throughout this process. Our success is driven by their continued trust and support.”

According to NPA city councillor Melissa De Genova, there is no funding available in the reserve within the 2022 budget to reverse city council’s previous decision, and the VPD will likely have to wait for the 2023 budget to see its restored funding.

In response to the provincial government’s decision, Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he is “glad we finally have a decision after waiting for more than a year for this report,” which he says “dates back to a decision made by Vancouver City Council during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic when all departments were asked to do more with less.”

The VPD’s annual budget will reach $367 million in 2022, accounting for one-fifth of the municipal government’s operating budget.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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