By the time Gibsons’ Police Transition Select Committee meets next, on Feb. 9, they will know if the town has passed the 5,000 population benchmark. If the 2021 census shows that Gibsons has reach a population of 5,000, the committee will begin preparations to transition responsibility for policing the area from the province to the town. If the head count reported is lower than 5000, there will be no change to policing, and the committee may ask council for permission to disband.
At the committee’s initial meeting, held online on Jan. 18, there was agreement to schedule future committee meetings on the second Wednesday of each month. There was also agreement to invite representatives of the province and the RCMP to attend the Feb. 9 meeting.
Three community volunteers have joined the committee and were in virtual attendance at the first meeting. Those included former Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe and retired RCMP sergeants Ed Hill and Brad Zayls, who both served as past RCMP staff sergeants on the Coast. Mayor and committee chair, Bill Beamish and support staff from the Town also attended. The committee closed their first meeting to proceed with in-camera discussions about whether adding more public committee members will be recommended. Its terms of reference allow up to five committee members from the community.
Town chief administrative officer Mark Brown will support the committee’s work. Brown oversaw a similar transition while working in the community of Qualicum Beach, and at the meeting he explained that process was done over a three-year transition period. He noted that community was able to negotiate a gradual increase to the full officer and administrative support compliments. That resulted in a phasing in of the costs associated with both.
Another item discussed by the committee was the Jan. 11 announcement from the Sunshine Coast RCMP detachment that its satellite office in Gibsons would be temporarily closed until Feb. 28, due to shortages of support staff. Beamish emphasized that the closures impacts administrative services at the Gibsons office, but not policing within the community. He also said that there had been an oversight in communications that led to the announcement being released and posted on Facebook before the Town was informed.