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Gibsons preparing for policing changes with new committee

Dec. 21 Gibsons council meeting briefs
Gibsons Municipal Hall
GIbsons will need to take on a bigger chunk of its policing costs once it's confirmed that the municipality has passed the 5,000 population mark.

Gibsons council established a Police Transition Select Committee (PTSC) to make recommendations on moving to a new police contract and cost sharing structure, at its Dec. 21 meeting.

Coun. Stafford Lumley was appointed as a town representative on the PTSC, which will be chaired by Mayor Bill Beamish. In the coming months, Town staff will be recruiting three to five community members with knowledge of or backgrounds in policing as additional committee members.   

The actions were taken in anticipation that census data to be released in February will confirm Gibsons population has passed the 5,000 mark. Should that be the case, the Town will be required to take on greater responsibilities for its policing. 

In 2019, another town select committee recommended that when the population level requires that change, it enter a Municipal Police Unit Agreement with the province and the RCMP. Under that arrangement, the federal government will fund 30 per cent of policing costs. That committee recommended against Gibsons opting to create its own police department. Under that scenario, the town would have to cover all costs associated with its policing.

At the meeting, chief administrative officer Mark Brown noted that town staff are waiting for an information package from the RCMP to help with transition discussions. Included in that package, which is slated to be received early in 2022, will be police workload and crime statistics within town boundaries and details on recommended minimum resource and staffing levels.

As there has been a delay by the RCMP in providing that data, Beamish stated that he will be recommending that as one of the first items of PTSC business, it ask the province to extend the target transition date for the changeover. That date is currently set for April.

He also noted that once police resources are assigned to and funded by the town, the local RCMP Coast-wide detachment model will likely be retained. He said that in conversations with Sechelt’s Mayor Siegers, she indicated an interest in establishing a police committee to provide direction to what may become two municipal units within that detachment.  

Potential for cat licensing

Efforts by the town to deal with health and other issues posed by free roaming cats will start with a public education program, to be followed by potential bylaw changes later in 2022. Council endorsed those decisions at the meeting and stipulated that if any bylaw changes are introduced that there be no fee to residents for cat licenses.   

Town covers COVID related costs for Gibsons Library

Council agreed to provide $19,700 to the Gibsons Public Library to cover the additional material, staffing and cleaning costs in 2022 related to keeping its operations safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. It directed that funding come out of the $1.5 million in federal/provincial pandemic recovery funds provided to the Town in 2020.  Mayor Beamish stated by doing that, the COVID-related portion of the higher Library operations costs for the coming year will not have to be covered by the taxpayers of the town and Sunshine Coast Regional District Areas E and F, who fund that service. 

In addition, the library will be asked to provide a cost estimate to install touch-free washroom faucets in their facility so that council can consider also paying for that project from the town’s pandemic recovery funding. 

Holland Lands/Cultural Corner committee report

The timeframe for receipt of the report to Council from the Select Committee tasked with studying the feasibility of re-vitalizing the Holland Lands/Cultural Corner area of lower Gibsons was extended at the meeting and is now anticipated to be received by March, 2022.