Petition to stop budget surplus from going to police account

Surplus shouldn't fund cops

A petition has popped up online demanding the City of Kelowna rethink a decision to add $2.5 million of its 2019 budget surplus to the RCMP reserve account.

The city realized a budget surplus of $8.1 million from its 2019 budget and council, at its July 27 meeting, voted unanimously to spread that money into various reserve accounts, with the largest chunk going into the RCMP fund.

Finance staff suggested the money go into the account to make up for an anticipated shortfall in casino revenues in 2020 due to the closure of gaming houses as a result of COVID-19, and the anticipated unionization of RCMP members with an uncertain cost.

However, Courtney Christensen who started the petition says earmarking the money for RCMP purposes is problematic for several reasons.

"First of all we are in the middle of a pandemic, citizens are struggling to pay bills, local business are struggling to stay open, and they could use the money for that. We also have a huge homelessness and opioid overdose crisis, that could use funding," the petition states.

She also points to two investigations underway concerning officer's treatment of residents in recent months, as well as movements to defund police forces.

"I am creating this petition as a way to spread awareness and to show the city council that this is not the best way to spend the surplus and it would be better spend invested in community programs.

"Programs that help with mental illness, homelessness, addiction and at risk youths."

As of Monday evening, nearly 900 people had signed the petition.



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