Vancouver Police Board approves $6.4 million budget increase

$6.4M police budget hike

The Vancouver Police Board’s approval Monday of a $322-million provisional budget to operate the police department next year — a $6.4 million increase over the 2020 budget — sets up what will likely be a contentious debate at city hall over the next two weeks.

That’s because a staff report released Nov. 24 recommended city council shave $3.1 million, or one per cent, from the Vancouver Police Department’s 2021 operating budget to help offset $85 million in lost city revenues related to the pandemic.

The $3.1 million recommended cut, however, could rise in the days ahead once the city’s finance staff consider the police board’s decision Monday to also add an additional $350,000 to help fund the city’s 11 community policing centres.

The difference now between what city staff recommended in its report — a $318 million budget for the VPD in 2021 — and what the police board approved Monday is $3.4 million, making for a considerable funding gap to close.

Police board member Rachel Roy said she supported the increase to the VPD’s budget because of social issues such as homelessness and drug addiction the department continues to deal with that are not being addressed by governments.

“The reality is that when our safety net has holes in it, things end up on the doorstep of the police,” said Roy, who urged board members to pressure senior governments for funding to better provide for people in need who otherwise are responded to by police.

“I will continue to push — and I hope that you all will be joining me — to actually put us on the forefront of asking for provincial and federal money to deal with these things.”

The $6.4 million increase is a boost of about two per cent over the VPD’s 2020 budget.

Council meets Tuesday in what is expected to be the first of several meetings to discuss the draft 2021 operating and capital budgets.

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