Province cuts seasonal policing budget 

Cuts in policing for special events may be around the corner for Whistler as the RCMP struggles to meet its budget requirements for this fiscal year.

"But people can rest assured that we will do everything in our means so that Whistler is a safe place," said Cnst. Ray Bernoties.

The seasonal policing budget which funds overtime to police resort areas must be reduced by $150,000, according to an internal memo.

Traditionally Whistler has relied on officers from other areas of B.C. to come in and lend a hand for big events like New Year’s Eve, the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, and high security conferences like the economic conference held here in July which brought hundreds of protesters to the resort.

Whistler currently spends about $250,000 on policing special events. First Night alone costs $100,000.

The overall budget for policing Whistler is $2.1 million. There are 21 officers on staff.

The province picks up the tab for 30 per cent of the cost and the municipality is responsible for the balance.

Bernoties said that because the municipality pays for the majority of the policing of special events there was likely to be little effect on the number of officers attending them.

Where it might have an effect said RCMP media spokesman Sgt. Grant Learned is on the policing of large unplanned events like protests.

"There will be an impact," he said.

Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said it appeared to be another example of the province downloadng costs on the municipalities.

But, he said, he hoped for further consultation and a chance to continue to plead a special case for Whistler.

"We have a case to plead that we are a very successful resort that contributes a lot of money to the province and what we are trying to do is get some of that money reinvested so that we can sustain our success," said O’Reilly.

"One of the things the province promised us was that there would be no more downloading without the financial tools to go with it."

This past summer the resort brought in six extra officers every weekend after the community became concerned over increased violence in the village.

During the Memorial Day weekend 12 people were detained in the village for fighting, public drunkenness and creating a disturbance. On another occasion a police officer was assaulted.

Cut backs may put an end to special programs like this one, which cost $5,000 a weekend in overtime costs.

"It was very successful," said O’Reilly but it will have to be looked at again in the face of less funding.

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