Vancouver Police Board approves $383 million budget request

The Vancouver Police Board has approved the 2023 budget request from the city’s police department. If city council accepts, it could mean higher taxes for Vancouverites. Kier Junos has the details.

By Kier Junos and Emily Marsten

The Vancouver Police Board (VPB) has approved a $383 million budget request from the city’s police department.

Although the 2023 budget plan was green-lit from the VPB before going through, it will need to be approved by city council.

But one councillor says it could also mean an increase in taxes for Vancouverites.

“It’s about an 11 per cent increase for policing in the 2023 budget, and that’s probably a four per cent tax increase for Vancouverites,” Vancouver City Councillor Pete Fry said.

Deputy Chief Const. Steve Rai with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) says the money will help with the hiring of new staff.

“The submission is for $383 million, which includes the support for 100 new officers and 20 civilian professionals,” he said.

The hiring of the officers was a main campaign promise of Mayor Ken Sim, and on Tuesday, the council approved a plan to allocate up to $8 million in the 2023 budget to fund the program.

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But Fry says that the VPD’s request is a “significant ask.”

“I don’t think we can afford it…the cuts are going to have to come from somewhere else,” he said.

Factoring in city council’s approval this week of $8 million, the VPD is asking for about $38 million more than the year before for their operational budget.

Fry says the police should be well-resourced, but adds the budget is about double what city staff initially anticipated.

“I don’t know where the $38 million increase is going to come from relative to all the other commitments we have, and important services that we need to resource…including our infrastructure renewal,” he explained.

Fry says that ultimately the choice will be left in the hands of the mayor’s party.

“This is going to be a decision that the ABC majority is going to make, ultimately, because they’ve committed to lowering taxes, but they’ve also committed to some pretty big ticket expenses.”

Although he says they don’t have a full plan in place for where the officers will be placed, Rai says the additional officers will bump up the force to nearly 1,500 staff members.

“These officers will be used to meet the emerging challenges in public safety. We have a preliminary idea of where they’ll be going, obviously, mental health, and all of the social items we talked about earlier,” Rai said.

Sim is in Qatar at the World Cup and wasn’t present at the board meeting. His office told CityNews that it will not be commenting on the budget process since it was just received.

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