Q2 2021 – During the 2021 budget process, Council approved a 7% annual increase in the Town of Gibsons’ municipal tax. This comprises a 2% general increase and a 5% dedicated Police Services Tax.
The 5% increase related to the Police Services Tax ($165,000) will be placed in reserve, and used to mitigate an expected increase of $700,000 to $1 million in Gibsons’ annual policing costs, which will be triggered by the Province of BC when the Town’s population officially reaches 5,000 people.
It is expected that the 2021 Canada Census will find that at least 5,000 people are residents of the Town of Gibsons. If it does, the Town will be required to begin paying the additional policing costs in spring 2022, which will necessitate a significant municipal tax increase.
Q1 2021 – Council is contemplating how best to begin preparing for an estimated $700,000 to $1 million annual increase in the Town’s policing costs, which is required by the Province of BC once we reach a population of 5,000 people. A proposal to include a dedicated 5% police services tax increase in 2021, a dedicated 15% police services tax increase in 2022 and a dedicated 10.3% police services tax increase in 2022 (in addition to any other required annual municipal tax increases) is currently being considered. Adopting this plan would enable the Town to establish a police reserve fund ahead of the anticipated 2022 rise in costs, which would be used to help mitigate the tax increase that will be required. Read the related 2021-03-09 staff report here.
Q4 2020 – A letter has been received from the Executive Director of the Policing and Service Branch (PSB), confirming that if Gibsons should exceed 5,000 population in the 2021 Canada Census, the transition to municipal policing responsibility would be effective April 1, 2022. To assist with this process, PSB staff have initiated development of a Policing Information Package for the Town that includes information about the Town’s current police services, highlights key components of RCMP Agreements, identifies a minimum resource level for the Town and estimated costs for the provision of RCMP municipal services, post-transition.
Q1 2020 – Based on the report received by Council in December 2019 (see below), a 1% increase in taxation was proposed in the 2020 budget, with the resulting money being used to establish a Police Services Reserve Fund. However, due to the potential negative financial impacts of COVID-19 on Town citizens, Council ultimately decided not to proceed with this rate hike.
Under the BC Police Act, the provincial government must provide policing and law enforcement services to municipalities under the 5,000 population threshold. Those municipalities pay 30% of the total policing costs.
Once the municipality exceeds 5,000 people, it must pay 70% of its policing costs and provide policing and law enforcement by means of one of the following:
According to BC Stats, the estimated population of Gibsons was 4,816 in 2020, with the next federal census scheduled to take place in May 2021.
In anticipation of reaching the 5,000 population threshold at the 2021 Census, the Town of Gibsons’ Council established a Police Services Select (PSS) Committee in February 2019.
The purpose and scope of the PSS Committee was to provide an overview of the history of police services in Gibsons, identify issues and actions to improve the level of policing services in Gibsons, and discuss options for policing the Town of Gibsons.
On December 17, 2019, Council received the report titled “Police Services Select Committee Final Report”.
In the report, the committee recommends that the Town opt for an agreement for RCMP policing, but with a contract that spells out specific service levels.
To date, all municipalities which have crossed the 5,000 population threshold have chosen the RCMP to provide their municipal policing services.
Currently, Gibsons is covered as part of the RCMP’s rural service contract with the Province. Under that model, ratepayers in Gibsons pay 30% of the community’s policing costs, or about $403,000 in policing taxes.
Under the 70% cost-sharing model, the Town will need to raise between $739,978.40 and $1,001,221.20 in new taxation, depending on the number of dedicated officers for Gibsons.