Waterloo council to vote on supporting reallocation of police funding

·2 min read

WATERLOO — Support for reallocation of police funding may come from Waterloo council.

Coun. Jen Vasic has tabled a motion, which will be voted on Monday, encouraging members of provincial parliament and the provincial and federal governments to work with the Waterloo Region Police Services Board and Region of Waterloo to evaluate police legislation and consider alternative models of community safety.

The motion also calls for more substantial investments in areas such as health and mental health, affordable and mixed-use housing, anti-racist and decolonizing education, harm reduction, and drug legalization.

Vasic wrote in an email that at its core “the motion is about shifting resources to programs that will give more people a fair chance to live full and meaningful lives, on their own terms and by their own leadership.”

With the police commanding about 20 per cent of the regional budget, Mayor Dave Jaworsky noted that police resources are not proportional to funding in other areas. With a lack of early intervention programs, as well as generations impacted by racism, Jaworsky said this leads to a lot of social issues that get mishandled.

“So who ends up dealing with all of this? The one group, the police, and it’s really time for us to recognize that using the police as a catch-all is the wrong end of the stick to be holding. You need to be working on the other end of the stick in terms of helping people along.”

Vasic said she was encouraged to table this motion after reading conversations on Twitter that there is nothing stopping municipalities from advocating for their communities on this issue.

“When I started throwing this idea by the mayor he rightly encouraged me to also begin looking at what the City of Waterloo needs to do in-house,” Vasic said.

The motion includes a call for the city to advance equity, anti-racism and truth and reconciliation internally, reporting back to council on progress by March 2021.

Vasic, who drafted the motion in collaboration with city staff and community members, wrote that she sees this as a positive step forward for Waterloo in its efforts to address anti-racism, reconciliation, and issues of equity and inclusion.

“I hope other municipalities — local and otherwise — are encouraged to put forth similar motions and I hope that our local MPPs take this advocacy to the province on our behalf.”

Fitsum Areguy’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Email fareguy@therecord.com Twitter @fitsumareguy

Fitsum Areguy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record