During the recent civic election campaign, there was plenty of talk among the 23 candidates for mayor and council about the need to think outside the box in trying to keep liveability high and tax increases low.
Kudos, then, to new Coun. Mike O’Reilly for bringing one of the ideas out of the box so council and city staff can at least investigate whether it can be implemented.
O’Reilly this week floated the suggestion that the city look at the option of hiring special provincial constables, which he said could enforce provincial laws for minor crimes.
The idea is the special provincial constables may be able to bridge the gap between City of Kamloops bylaw officers and Mounties — and save city taxpayers money in the process.
The city will add three RCMP officers to the force next year at a total cost (wages, benefits and equipment) of $200,000 per Mountie per year.
By contrast, a bylaw officer costs taxpayers $85,000 per year.
The cost for the special provincial constables would fall somewhere in-between.
But beyond presenting a monetary savings, the officers — essentially an armed version of current bylaw officers, with the required training — could step in and address certain social issues and allow Mounties more time to focus on deterring crime.
Plenty of calls to the police are related to mental health and addiction, social issues that are not confined to a law and order lens.
Tax hikes in Kamloops have averaged about two per cent per year in the past decade. Cumulatively, they have seriously impacted the day-to-day living budgets of many residents.
To them, every dollar is crucial, just as every loonie spent at city hall should be considered carefully.
It costs nothing to look into whether special provincial constables can be employed in Kamloops, so let’s find out.
More ideas like this is what taxpayers want.