The province has responded to two Columbia Shuswap Regional District resolutions that were endorsed by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities in 2012.
While the resolution on invasive species received a positive response, a Ministry of Justice response to rural policing concerns offered nothing new.
“It’s always nice to get follow-up on resolutions we advance through UBCM, but the responses are somewhat predictable,” says Charles Hamilton, CSRD’s chief administrative officer, noting he was pleased to see the province taking a proactive approach on invasive species like quagga and zebra mussels, but “underwhelmed” by the justice ministry’s response to rural policing issues.
The ministry advises the RCMP has been conducting a study on models of police service to ensure compliance with the Canada Labour Code and listed the criteria used in allocating resources.
“Given the fluid nature of policing, the RCMP, in conjunction with the provincial government, consistently monitors and reviews resources and redeploys accordingly in order to prevent and reduce crime in B.C. communities,” reads the provincial response.
“It’s not a question of whether or not they re-allocate resources, because where in the province do they need less policing?” asks Kevin Keane, Salmon Arm RCMP Detachment staff sergeant. “The real issue is, increased boots on the ground and increased visibility are what we need.”
The local detachment provides service to the City of Salmon Arm and a large part of the Shuswap with only 19 officers paid for by the city and six covered by the province – to provide 24-hour service with back-up, attend mandatory training, appear in court, have leave, holidays and maternity or paternity leave.
“I have been told we’re (RCMP) Southeast District’s priority for more resources,” says Keane. “But, at the end of the day, the province has said there will be no money for new positions.”
Hamilton says, as local government, the regional district is well aware of restraint and making difficult financial choices.
“But underlining our resolution was the ‘don’t focus all your energies on urban policing,’” he says. “Certainly there is a need in rural areas to access police service and we want to ensure the division is fair and equitable.”
Hamilton gave the province’s response on the regional district’s request for immediate measures to protect B.C.’s lakes a better grade.
“They are recognizing the seriousness of invasive species and are contemplating legislation or regulations to prohibit or control their entry into the province,” he says.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources advised it has proposed amendments to the Controlled Alien Species Regulation that will prohibit the possession, transport or breeding of listed species…and enable conservation officers and other law enforcement staff to stop, inspect and impound mussel-fouled boats.
The province is also working with the federal government to have quagga and zebra mussels added to the Federal Aquatic Species Regulation.
This will prohibit the importation of live mussels into Canada and enable Canada Border Services Agency to stop mussel-fouled boats from entering the country.