Speaking the day after a ruling from B.C.’s director of police services, Stewart told a news conference that he’s glad the city can move on, after council voted to cut millions in police funding in its 2021 budget.
The decision had been due to the early financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said Tuesday, “which was quite a dark time where all departments were asked to do more with less money,” and maintained that police had access to the money all along.
He added the $5.7 million that’s been ordered to be restored is equivalent to about a 0.6-per-cent increase in property taxes, to be debated by the next council elected in the fall.
In a statement late Monday, Chief Const. Adam Palmer said he’s confident a fully funded police department can continue to protect and serve the community.
“Vancouver has been gripped by an abundance of public safety challenges, including the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict, a surge in violent street crime, nearly 1,000 protests, concerning levels of hate crime, and a growing number of people who tell us they just don’t feel as safe as they used to,” Palmer said.
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The VPD had warned that the budget cut would lead to 60 new recruits not being hired and a reduction of police services, which led to the police board filing an appeal.
Last month, Palmer told the Vancouver Police Board that incidents of windows being broken were up 40 per cent since 2019.
In the downtown core, commercial break and enters with broken glass have increased 24 per cent since 2021.
According to police statistics, an average of four people are the victims of random, groundless attacks by unknown suspects in the city each day, and that’s not including barfights, robberies, incidents of road rage or other assaults where the individuals know each other.
– with a file from Safeeya Pirani