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Charlottetown considers adding more than $1M to police budget

'The need for these numbers is not new, I must make that point,' says Charlottetown Police Chief Brad MacConnell.  (Britanny Spencer/CBC - image credit)
'The need for these numbers is not new, I must make that point,' says Charlottetown Police Chief Brad MacConnell. (Britanny Spencer/CBC - image credit)

An expansion of the police department was a major item Monday night in discussions of the City of Charlottetown's operating budget for 2024-25.

The city is looking at spending $1,043,920 on new initiatives. Spending would include salary increases, as well as adding forensics technology, a communications liaison and five new police officers to the current 70.

"We're trying to provide the best and safest community that we can. That requires human resources, and we have a growing population with growing demands," Coun. Norman Beck said following the council meeting on Monday night.

"We have evolving needs that our police force is facing and with that comes the need to staff as appropriately as we can, in a fiscally responsible way."

Norman Beck, chair of Charlottetown's committee on strategic priorities, communication and intergovernmental affairs, says
Norman Beck, chair of Charlottetown's committee on strategic priorities, communication and intergovernmental affairs, says

'We have evolving needs that our police force is facing and with that comes the need to staff as appropriately as we can, in a fiscally responsible way,' says Coun. Norman Beck. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)

City staff is recommending spending $650,000 to add five officers. Those officers would come on top of six council voted to provide funding for in December.

"The request in the new initiatives is for five more officers to continue our gradual growth to get us to the strength we need to police proportionally to the population," said Charlottetown Police Chief Brad MacConnell, during Monday's meeting.

Beck also wanted to know about six officers the province is supposed to be funding through conditions council placed on the province when it voted to allow Park Street Emergency Shelter to operate another year and to move the Community Outreach Centre.

"We've had a little bit of a confusion or uncertainty around the police numbers," Beck said during the meeting.

"We have to make sure we understand exactly what we are hiring here."

That's similar to questions Coun. Mitchell Tweel has been asking for months.

Charlottetown Coun. Terry Bernard
Charlottetown Coun. Terry Bernard

Coun. Terry Bernard was concerned discussions on the operational budget were happening ahead of a capital budget being presented. (Laura Meader/CBC)

"The province has funded six positions. Two initially for mobile mental health. Then four more in relation to Park Street and the outreach transitions," MacConnell said.

The chief went on to say the new officers are needed to deal with a changing hiring environment, and the need for more police in the summer months when the city swells with tourists.

"The need for these numbers is not new, I must make that point," he said.

"There have been times in the past we have hired as many as 25 officers for summer employment to deal with the population surge. The difference today is that we can no longer find those officers for short-term employment."

Other budget items

The city is considering adopting an operational budget with $85,538,231 in expenses. Some of the new initiatives include:

  • $194,558 for two shift supervisors for the Charlottetown Fire Department.

  • $179,550 for a director of community services.

  • $97,279 for an additional fire inspector.

  • $30,000 for agenda management software

  • $78,310 to hire an IT support technician.

It's a process Coun. Kevin Ramsay wasn't used to. In previous years discussions around the operational budget were done in closed session, Ramsay said.

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown clarified that under the Municipal Government Act discussions have to be held in public.

Coun. Terry Bernard and Tweel were concerned discussions on the operational budget were happening ahead of a capital budget being presented.

The city's chief administrative officer said the intention of city staff was to present both budgets at one time, but some extra time is needed to work on the capital budget.

A special council meeting has been set for March 28 at noon for the final approval and adoption of the city's financial plan for 2024-25.