Mayor calls support for cost of policing cannabis a ‘pittance’
City councillors will have to balance protecting public safety and the public purse as they debate the next fouryear budget for Edmonton Police.
“It’s the biggest cost, it’s the hardest one to control, it’s the most politically complicated because lives are at stake and public safety is at stake,” said Mayor Don Iveson, speaking after council questioned members of the Edmonton Police Service and Edmonton Police Commission at a council meeting Thursday to review the proposed policing budget allocating funds for 2019 to 2022. The four-year budget would see the continued use of a funding model that ties increases to the police operating budget to population increases and inflation.
Interim police chief Kevin Brezinski praised the funding model for providing “stable, predictable funding,” so they can plan for the future, however uncertainty surrounding the impact of cannabis legislation could bring extra costs. Iveson slammed the provincial government for providing an inadequate share of federal funds given to provinces through a larger share of federal excise taxes. That money, Iveson said, was supposed to trickle down to municipalities to cover additional policing costs associated with the legalization of cannabis, but Iveson said the actual amount paid out by the province to Edmonton is a “pittance.”
The province has offered the city $1.1 million this year for additional policing costs.