Waterloo Region approves 2022 budget, $10 million increase for police
KITCHENER -- The Region of Waterloo approved their 2022 budget Wednesday night, which included an increase of just over $10 million to the Waterloo Regional Police Services Board.
The police budget comes in at $195,760,656, costing the average home owner an extra $27 a year.
“If we are to wait to to deal with the increase in crime that comes along with that growth, we're just going to be behind the eight ball,” Sandy Shantz, Mayor of Woolwich Township and a Regional Councillor.
The budget went through months of review.
Council heard from numerous delegates during public meetings, who called for no increase for the police.
Community leaders said they heard different from their communities.
“Most of the correspondence I receive from Cambridge based residents are that they really want to ensure that we allocate enough police resources and officers to meet their expectations,” Kathryn McGarry, the Mayor of Cambridge and a Regional Councillor said.
The new budget is about $2 million less than what was first proposed. The Waterloo Regional Police Services Board originally wanted a $12.4 million increase next year to hire 35 new officers.
After several discussions, it decided to ask for less, by making adjustments to the hiring dates for new officers.
Councillor Sue Foxton opposed giving any extra funding. She said each year council approves more officers, but she doesn’t see it's impact the North Dumfries area.
“Every year councillors have approved more officers. Every year, policing is almost non existent in North Dumfries and every year we have the same problem, since the 1990s, that tells me something's broken,” Sue Foxton, Mayor of North Dumfries Township and a Regional Councillor said.
Councillor Tom Galloway also opposed extra police money, but did however make a motion to use the around $2.1 million difference from reducing the police budget, to establish an upstream initiatives fund.
“A lot of excuses, but policing does not exist in the way we want it. We need these upstream programs and we need them guaranteed. We need them not to be taken away,” Foxton said.
Council also approved a one time spending of $500,000 to create a transition fund.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING, SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORATION AMONG OTHER ITEMS IN BUDGET
In addition to the police budget, regional council also gave the green light for over $150 million in affordable housing initiatives, $191 million in sustainable transportation, a $2.5 million investment in climate action, and $2 million to modernize public services.
In a Wednesday news release, the region says $10 million will be used from the 2022 budget for initiatives that improve the social economic health of Indigenous, Black, African, Caribbean, and other racialized or marginalized communities.
The total tax increase from the approved budget sits at 4.56 per cent, which translates to roughly $96 for the average household.
Of the 4.56 increase, 1.26 per cent is for police services.