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Big local events could soon be charged for policing

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

The 2019 Cariboo Rocks the North could be hit with an $11,000 policing bill, should a cost recovery plan be adopted by city council.

Staff recommended to the city’s finance and audit committee this week that organizers of large events, like Cariboo Rocks the North, be charged $115 per hour per police officer for attending the event. Had the fee been in place in 2018, Cariboo Rocks the North would have been hit with a bill of about $11,000.

“There might only be two or three events like these every year,” Devon Cooper, Manager of Police Support Services told the committee. “It wouldn’t be something that we would be looking at for every event.”

Promoters of special events are required to provide a security plan that details the security presence at the event. At some of the larger special events, such as the Cariboo Rocks the North event at the CN Centre in August, police presence on the site may be required to ensure public safety, she said.

The requirement for police officer attendance at special events will be determined based upon the potential public risk posed by the scale and nature of each event.

Ongoing police attendance at special events would fall outside of the normal staffing /duties of the members on a watch. Therefore, in most instances, members will need to be brought in on overtime in order to provide coverage for the special event, according to her report to the committee.

“With some of these larger events it would be advantageous to have police presence,” she said.

“The intent would be minimize the impact on normal policing,” added Inspector Shaun Wright, Operations Officer for the Prince George RCMP.

Events would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis as to whether a police presence is required, Wright said. Large events, such as concerts where alcohol is served would likely qualify, while other events, such as the BCNE, likely wouldn’t.

“Currently these events often necessitate us bringing in members on overtime,” said Wright. “That gets billed to the city on the regular overtime budget, there is no mechanism for recovery from outside organizers.”

The city will have to change its fees and charges bylaw to enact such a plan and that will allow the public to have input.

“Cost recovery is a good thing,” said Coun. Brian Skakun. “I just don’t know how much discussion in the community because there is going to be a big impact for some of these events.”

Coun. Cori Ramsay said a definition of constitutes a ‘special event’ under the bylaw would be helpful and “I’m concerned that people might misconstrue that it’s the police’s job to already monitor those events.”

If council decides to adopt the cost recovery plan, it could be in place for the 2019 Cariboo Rocks the North.