Sgt. Dave Herman at council

RCMP need to install camera system they say will now cost the town $90,000

Ladysmith RCMP has told council that the town it will need to pay out in excess of $90,000 for required upgrades to the police detachment by January 2015.

The money in question is to be used for a new cell camera system that the RCMP has to implement by law.

Council was originally told this would only cost the town $75,000.

Sgt. Dave Herman from the Ladysmith RCMP was at a special council meeting last Monday at city hall to break the news to Mayor Rob Hutchins and the rest of the council table.

“There is a required upgrade that we need to do which will see us install a new CCTV video and camera system to our cells which includes 42 new cameras by law,” said Herman at the meeting. “We’ve recently been advised this will now cost around $90,000. It needs to be in place by January 30, 2015.”

Herman believes the new camera system is an absolute necessity.

“Back in 2006 we had the Ian Bush case where a young man was arrested outside of a hockey game in the interior of B.C. There was a terrible fight and a huge enquiry, and eventually the young man lost his life.”

Bush was killed by an RCMP officer whilst in police custody.

Notably, no fraction of the $90,000 price tag will be paid by Ladysmith’s surrounding areas, CVRD Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands) and Area H (North Oyster/Diamond) despite the fact the Ladysmith RCMP covers both areas.

Numerous members of the Ladysmith council table think that arrangement is unfair on the town.

“Our concern isn’t the need or the value of this camera system,” said Hutchins at the meeting. “It’s that there is no cost sharing with the province and places like Diamond and Cassidy aren’t paying a cent for this. How do we budget for something we don’t know the cost of? It’s very difficult. The previous number given to us was 75,000. I was hoping to piggyback this off of the province or delay it, but we’re told we can’t do that either.”

Coun. Duck Paterson was on the same page.

“We’re expected to pay the whole shot despite a third of the people ending up in cells being picked up in Cassidy,” he said. “Why aren’t they paying a portion of it?”

Herman confirmed that 100% of the bill is to be paid by the Town of Ladysmith.

“A note went out in 2010 whereby any detachments who couldn’t make the deadline apply to Ottawa and they would receive more time.”

No applications were received by Ottawa.

Hutchins asked Erin Anderson, director of financial services, at the meeting to confirm how much was left in the RCMP reserve.

The initial $75,000 had been budgeted by the town and Anderson said “approximately another $10,000 is in there.”

“It’s a difficult financial position that we’re in,” said Hutchins. “This situation is so unusual that it has been placed on the burden of the municipal taxpayer.

Residents in the Town of Ladysmith pay an RCMP tax of $236 because there is over 8,000 people living in the town.

Residents in areas such as G and H only pay $55 as there is under 5,000 people living there.

“It’s not a question of how much of a need the cameras are, it’s more about how the cost is being spread,” said Paterson. “Citizens in our community have to pay more even though you serve the surrounding areas. I don’t know why our certain amount is being stuck with the whole bill.”

At the same meeting, it was confirmed that the town’s audit was complete and Cory Vanderhorst from MNP stated the “town has more assets than debt.”

“Last year the town brought in $13.2 million in revenue which was below last year and budget,” said Vanderhorst. “The town’s expenses was $12 million which was above last year but below budget, so that’s a $1.2 million surplus.”