Lake Country council is being asked to consider adding more police officers next year, but the district’s chief administrative officer says council should hold off making that decision. (file)

Lake Country council is being asked to consider adding more police officers next year, but the district’s chief administrative officer says council should hold off making that decision. (file)

Lake Country to consider more cops

Council asked to look at adding up to five more RCMP officers

Does Lake Country need more cops?

That’s the question council will be asked next week by municipal staff.

Despite a recommendation from chief administrative officer Albert De Feo that no new RCMP officers be requested for 2020 and a hiring strategy be undertaken instead with recommendations in 2021, council will be asked to consider requesting anywhere from one to five new officers for the 2020 fiscal year.

“As the District’s population continues to grow, the need to add additional RCMP members grows,” says a report to be presented to council Tuesday.

“While there are no hard or defined rules for the level of RCMP service in relation to population, what can be agreed by both the RCMP and (district) staff is that members should be added before significant growth in crime rates (are) noted.”

Currently, the district has 13 police officers. Because it has a population of just under 15,000, the district pays 70 per cent of the total cost providing police service.

Once the population surpasses 15,000, that contribution will jump to 90 per cent. The remainder is covered by the province.

But the report says most of the time the actual number of officers assigned to cover Lake Country varies is as low nine because of illness, leaves and vacancies.

READ MORE: Less crime in Lake Country

The total cost to the district of adding a single RCMP officer to local detachment is estimated at $127,000, which would equate to a municipal tax increase of 1.1 per cent, says the staff report.

“If members are not added regularly between now (and the population surpassing 15,000), the adjustment to the funding and the additional required staff will be significant,” says the report.

Despite that, De Feo wants Lake Country to move “cautiously” from a financial perspective.

“First of all, our policing needs are not as pressing as other communities,” he writes in the report.

“We have other capacity needs that seem more pressing and that will need to be addressed sooner rather than later and that will be outlined in the staff capacity review that is being prepared by staff.”

He adds the other major issue is office space for any new cops.

The CAO says the current RCMP building in Lake Country is at capacity and major renovations would be needed to bring the existing facility up to RCMP standards.

“This would be a major capital cost, of which we don’t have any estimate at this time.”

Council discussed the issue at its regular weekly meeting Tuesday night.

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