Saskatchewan·Blog

$87M Regina police budget passes, city hall says 'no' more officers

Regina's chief of police says the service needs to hire 34 more officers, but city hall has said no to hiring more—at least for now.

City council to debate tonight how much taxes will go up this year

Regina Police Service Chief Evan Bray spoke to reporters on Tuesday night. He said said he wants to grow the service by 34 officers, based on the findings of a recent operational review. (CBC News)

Regina's chief of police says the service needs to bring in 34 new officers, but city hall has said no to hiring more—at least for now.  

Evan Bray explained that, despite criticism of police spending, the service did not get all of its requests granted by the Board of Police Commissioners, which has already approved the budget behind closed doors. 

He said he wants to grow the service by 34 officers, based on the findings of a recent operational review. He said it demonstrated that the city's population has outpaced the number of officers.

"We knew that this was going to be a very tight financial year. Our initial proposal had some growth, not significant growth, but some growth and the [Board of Police Commissioners] just signalled that city hall right now is really working to not hire new positions," Bray explained to reporters Tuesday. 

"I know it's not going to be something we're going to be able to do in one year, but it is my hope that in 2019 we can start perhaps a five-year plan that allows us to address some of the shortfalls that we have in terms of staffing."
Councillors debated the City of Regina's proposed budget for 2018 on Tuesday. (Kevin O'Connor/CBC)

Bray did not confirm how much it would cost to hire 34 more officers, but said hiring four is about $480,000. 

On Tuesday, council approved the police service's $87 million budget, except for Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens, who explained there is a lack of correlation between the level of money being spent on police and the rate of crime. 

Bray was questioned by councillors on numerous items in the police budget, including the purchase of a tactical rescue vehicle —which he described to be more like a large truck. 

He cited the prevalence of gun, gang and drug related crimes as the reason for the need for such a vehicle, instead of simply borrowing the RCMP's as needed. 

Concerns about police spending, tax increase

Tuesday's meeting began with a handful of delegates addressing the city's $334-million spending plan. Council heard concerns from a citizen-led coalition group about the level of money going police.

Shayna Stock, executive director of the Heritage Community Association, pitched councillors on spending more on fixing local pools and improving recreation facilities. She also said more money should go to the three community associations operating in the city. 

John Hopkins, CEO of Regina District & Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns to council about the impact a proposed five per cent property tax could have on small businesses. 

When asked by Stevens what members want to see cut, Hopkins listed public sector spending and some civic grants, among other items to lessen the tax increase.

Here's a look at some of the infrastructure projects on the books for 2018:

  •  Upgrades on 13th Avenue
    • Painted pavement marking and signage will change at Pasqua and Elphinstone streets
    • City will also study adding bike lanes along 13th from Albert to Pasqua​
  • Dewdney Avenue twinning
    • Design and construct a twinned Dewdney from Courtney Street to the West Bypass
  • Restoration of the glockenspiel and City Square Plaza
  • Installation of new GPS technology on the civic fleet
  • $1.1 million for new fire and protective services apparatus
  • $1.3 million for the demolition of old Mosaic Stadium
  • $7 million in repairs to residential roads
  • Replacement of two playgrounds
  • Replacement of aged parking meters
  • A new pathway from downtown to the new Mosaic Stadium
  • Installation of GPS technology on traffic signals to improve fire response times
  • $37 million for the expansion of the Regina Police Service headquarters​

CBC reporter Stephanie Taylor will be reporting live from the meeting. You can follow her tweets below. 

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About the Author

Stephanie Taylor

Reporter, CBC Saskatchewan

Stephanie Taylor is a reporter based in Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC News in Regina, she covered municipal politics in her hometown of Winnipeg and in Halifax. Reach her at stephanie.taylor@cbc.ca