The province has come up with an extraordinary grant of up to $225,000 to help Whistler pay for its police force, after eliminating the program that used to help municipalities in the transition to funding their RCMP detachments.
Whistler will still have to come up with at least $325,000 to pay for police services for the first nine months, starting in April.
Police services for communities in B.C. with a population of less than 5,000 are funded by the provincial government. Once a town’s population tops 5,000 in an official census, as Whistler’s will do when last year’s census results are released in April, the community must begin to assume the cost.
The cost of funding the Whistler detachment is about $100,000 per month, or $1.2 million for a full year.
Until this year the province had a transition program that helped municipalities assume the cost of police forces over three years. A grant covered 100 per cent of the cost the first year, two-thirds of the cost the second year and one-third the final year.
But after the provincial government eliminated that program, as part of its plan to cut $750 million in spending over the next 18 months, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing has now come up with $225,000 to help Whistler in the transition. Finance Director Ken Derpak said the grant comes after much lobbying by Whistler for some financial help.
As well, the Attorney General’s office is currently negotiating the police service contract with Whistler and indications are that ministry will cover the cost of some police officers during the first nine months. The grant and the phase-in of man-power costs should reduce Whistler’s cost for police services to about $325,000 for the first nine months, from April to December.
However, as of Jan. 1, 1998 Whistler will be responsible for the full $1.2 million annual cost of maintaining an RCMP force in town.