Saanich council has ear-marked $700,000 for additional costs connected to the homeless camp at Regina Park. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Saanich earmarks additional funds for homeless camp

The move earmarks $700,000 for extra policing and other costs connected to Regina Park

Saanich residents heard their taxes will not go up in 2018 as council earmarked its entire 2018 contingency fund — $700,000 — towards extra costs associated with the tent city in Regina Park near Uptown.

Valla Tinney, director of finance, said costs associated with the camp will not lead to a tax increase in 2018, because tax rates are already set. Depending on circumstances though, it could lead to a tax lift in 2019, she said. Coun. Fred Haynes underscored this point when he said that Saanich has already collected the money for the 2018 contingency fund.

Council’s move does not inevitably mean that Saanich will spend $700,000 towards additional policing and other costs associated with the homeless camp. It instead ear-marks that amount towards any additional costs as they arise.

Whatever money Saanich does not spend on costs associated with Regina Park returns to the contingency fund, which Saanich has traditionally used to cover costs associated with unexpected weather events.

Council also passed a motion that asks staff to prepare more detailed figures by the end of the September as costs connected to the camp become clearer.

“It’s prudent to earmark these funds for this purpose,” said Coun. Dean Murdock in supporting council’s decision.

He said the earmarked amount demonstrates the cost of homelessness that the District has to bear. “But as a society, it is much more significant,” he said. He also used the occasion to call for additional efforts to resolve the issue of homelessness. No one should be put in a position to sleep outside, he said.

Much of the earmarked contingency funding will flow towards additional policing, but additional spending on other items including a sanitation station could end up raising the total cost to $950,000. Depending on events, the final figure may be even higher.

Mayor Richard Atwell opposed the allocation. “To me, it seems like a [public-relations] move, and that is why I oppose,” he said. Staff could have waited to make this move until the end of the August with more information available by then, he said.

“We could have waited, but we are getting uncomfortable about where we could have landed,” said Tinney.

With the knowledge that money will be available to deal with extra associated with Regina Camp, council delayed receiving information receiving additional information until the end of September.

Atwell opposed this move. He questioned why Saanich would fill its “pillow” with $700,000, then “sleep” on it until the end of September. It would be more prudent to get the information sooner rather than later, he said.

Without mentioning Atwell by name, Plant questioned his claim that the extra costs associated with Regina Park could lead to a tax increase. He also pointed to staff figures that show Saanich has other means to deal with additional costs if the camp continues to generate costs in 2019.

Coun. Fred Haynes echoed this point in praising staff’s prudence for building a sizable buffer.

But he also acknowledged the possibility of a tax increase in 2019 because of the camp.

“We will see,” he said.

Just Posted

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Tsawout councillor visits Saturna to meet logging protestors

Three Tsawout members engaged in direct action to stop logging, in defiance of leadership

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read