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'There was a flaw': Regional council votes to review police budget before board approval

Region of Waterloo council meeting on Jan. 18, 2023. (CTV News/Dan Lauckner) Region of Waterloo council meeting on Jan. 18, 2023. (CTV News/Dan Lauckner)
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Region of Waterloo councillors will be able to see the police budget before it is approved by the police services board thanks to a new motion approved by regional council at a Tuesday meeting.

Regional Councillor Colleen James presented a motion to council asking the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s (WRPS) board to bring forward a draft of police board’s budget to council in time for council to discuss it.

Prior to the motion approved Tuesday, previous years saw the police board bring the budget forward after it was already approved by the police board, and regional council could only either accept or reject the budget in its entirety.

The motion requests WRPS present its draft annual budget to regional council and to the community to allow time for both the regional council and the community to review and to provide comments prior to the Waterloo Regional Police Service Board finalizing its annual budget.

"I do believe there was a flaw in this process in terms of bringing us the final police budget without having the opportunity to speak with us and essentially the community in a transparent way,” said James at the meeting.

James told council that she believes not allowing for dialogue surrounding the budget in advance is a “disservice” to the community.

Some councillors agreed a discussion beforehand could lead to constructive and additional dialogue.

“Last week, there were seven things police couldn't answer for us when we asked. This is why I think it's valuable for them to come to us before a final budget,” said Coun. Jim Erb.

The motion received regional approval.

For next year's budget, the process will return to its past practice and present its draft annual budget to regional council, and to the community in time for regional council and the community to review and provide comment prior to the WRPS board finalizing its budget.

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