Central Kootenay residents in need of criminal record checks will soon be expected to pony up funds, much like its neighbours in the West Kootenay Boundary already do.
Starting Monday, residents serviced by RCMP detachments in Salmo, Nelson, Kaslo, New Denver and Nakusp will begin to pay $50 for employment-related checks and $20 for volunteer-based checks.
The revenue generated through the collection of these fees will fund a position that is dedicated solely to processing criminal record checks. Criminal record check applicants can now expect to receive their completed checks much quicker than has occurred in the past when waiting periods reached several weeks in some cases.
Inspector Nick Romanchuk explained that support resources have been stretched thin and the introduction of the fee structure is one way of reducing the burden to allow staff to complete other necessary duties.
“I don’t know what the exact numbers are but we process hundreds and probably thousands of these criminal record checks a year throughout the West Kootenay Boundary and it’s just incredibly cumbersome and it was just something that was just becoming overwhelming for us to manage,” he said, noting the process began in Greater Trail a number of years ago and expanded to the Boundary last year.
“I think it was a matter of capacity,” he said of the delay to integrate the fees at detachments like Salmo. “When we expanded into the Boundary a year ago, we wanted to see how it worked, if all the processes worked properly and so on. It did, it worked out very well so now we’ve decided to expand it further.”
While Romanchuk said he did receive some negative feedback from organizations that rely heavily on volunteers and a tight budget, he said the move was necessary.
“We had the odd complaint but this is what was happening before, we used to have an entire church congregation coming to us and having every member of the congregation submit a criminal record check,” he said. “That’s an absolute waste of our time and by charging fees, it’s eliminated a lot of that.”