The City of Richmond will be bringing aboard an additional 107 policing and fire staff, as part of the 2019 operating budget and five-year financial plan.
Funding for the manpower — part of council’s Safe Community Program based on recommendations from the RCMP and Richmond Fire-Rescue to address the continued growth of the city — comes from the overall 4.82 per cent tax increase for residents this year (approximately $94 for the average household), of which 61 per cent is being utilized for the above.
Based on population, Richmond has fewer police officers than its peer group — with an officer to population ratio of 1:970. The recent Richmond Fire-Rescue Plan Update shows the need for 12 firefighters in the Steveston/Seafair area, and an Engine Company consisting of 24 firefighters in the City Centre/Brighouse area, in order to maintain current levels of service for another decade.
To break it down, the budget increase provides for ongoing operating costs of 51 extra RCMP officers and 20 municipal employees at the Richmond Detachment, and 36 more firefighters to be hired, over the next three years.
The proposed budget also includes almost $3 million in additional spending required to cover costs passed on by the provincial and federal governments, including the new Employer Health Tax. Council approved the city’s 2019 capital budget and recommended one-time spending expenditures, and the Richmond Public Library’s 2019 operating and capital budgets as well.