Under the BC Police Act, the provincial government must provide policing and law enforcement services to municipalities under the 5,000 population threshold. Taxpayers in those municipalities pay 30% of the total policing costs, though outside of municipal budgets (municipalities still have to collect these taxes).
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:
(a) forming its own municipal police department;
(b) entering into an agreement with the Province under which policing and law enforcement in the municipality will be provided by the RCMP; or
(c) entering into an agreement with an adjacent municipality that has a municipal police department.
Recognizing that the Town of Gibsons’ population in the 2016 Census was 4,605, Council established a Police Services Select (PSS) Committee in February 2019 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.” The committee recommended 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.
It is anticipated that when the Town of Gibsons exceeds 5,000 people, we will need to increase our current overall budget by over 30% (approximately $1 million) to pay for the new policing costs. In 2021, Council approved 5% increase to the budget to begin building a Police Reserve Fund. In 2023, Council approved another 5% for a total of 10% towards the 30% we will ultimately need to fund policing. The next Census results will be announced in 2027.
The Town of Gibsons has also made a submission to the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, requesting that cost downloads to municipalities be made more incrementally after hitting 5,000, rather than having to come up with 70% all at once.