Kitchener-Waterloo

Provincial grant gives Waterloo regional police $8.5M to combat gang violence, human trafficking

Ontario's Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced Waterloo Regional Police Service would be receiving $8.5 million in grant funding for gang violence and human trafficking investigations.

'Gang violence does not respect municipal boundaries,' Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says

The province has set aside $14 million dollars to combat provincial crime priorities including gun and gang violence, sexual violence and harassment, and human trafficking, Ontario's Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says. (Matthew Pierce/CBC)

Waterloo regional police will be receiving $8.5 million in funding from a new provincial grant program to investigate local issues, gang violence and human trafficking.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones made the Community Safety and Policing Grant program announcement Wednesday at police headquarters in Cambridge. She said the province will be giving 89 police departments across the province $195 million over the next three years.

The grants were broken into two streams with the first allocating $181 million to local policing issues.

"Local priorities can include public safety issues as varied as mental health and addictions, drug-impaired driving, and property crime," Jones said. 

The remaining $14 million is for cross-department priorities identified by the province including sexual violence, human trafficking, and gang violence. 

"Crime, and especially gun and gang violence does not respect municipal boundaries," Jones said. 

The Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) received approximately $7 million for local priorities and $1.5 million for provincial. 

"This was a competitive process," police Chief Bryan Larkin said. 

"I'm very grateful that our community, particularly on the provincial priorities, has received the funding it's received, because I know there are other communities that are going without."

Funding 'extremely welcome'

In an October presentation to the regional budget committee, WRPS stated they would need $182 million dollars for their operations in 2020.

That's a 7.5 per cent increase over the budget for 2019.

A few hours after the Solicitor General's announcement, Larkin was scheduled to be in front the region's budget committee to make a presentation on his 2020 budget.

"This is extremely welcome money because, quite frankly, at 4:15 this afternoon my impassioned plea to regional council and the administration finance committee would be very different," Larkin said. 

He added that in previous years, the WRPS has been unsure of how much funding they would receive from the province and questions about future funding leads to an inability to plan ahead. 

"If we think about how we finance and how we budget, you can't operate month-to-month or year-to-year, you have to look to the future," he said. "This money allows us to manage our future growth."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt is a reporter and associate producer at CBC. You can reach him at matthew.pierce@cbc.ca.

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