For Immediate Release: February 29, 2012
The Coalition of Progressive Electors is calling the proposed 2012 Operating Budget unbalanced and says changes need to made to support communities, families, and young people. Of particular concern is the $7.8 million increase in police spending. In the consultation for the budget, more than sixty percent of those surveyed said they would prefer to decrease the police budget. Focusing only on enforcement through increases to the police budget, is also a deviation from Vancouver’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which includes harm reduction, treatment, and prevention.
COPE’s Tim Louis said that in Vision’s Vancouver’s previous term, over 125 net full time positions were cut while the police budget continued to expand. “Vancouver already has the highest ratio of police to citizens in all of Canada. With the federal government taking a tough-on-crime approach with the new bill C-10, cities need to reinvest in strategies that address the root cause of drug addiction and crime, instead of policing their symptoms,” said Louis.
COPE believes that Vancouver’s social challenges are better solved by funding for social housing, mental health workers, drug treatment initiatives, and enhanced services to youth.
Louis pointed out that the decision to fund an additional 35 new police positions could have instead gone towards reversing successive cuts at the Vancouver Park Board, which will be seeing a loss of 900 hours of programming in this budget alone. At the same time, Vancouver’s library system will be seeing a freeze in funding despite more facility space in operation this coming year.
“When we look at the root causes of crime, poverty, and addiction, we know that policing the problem doesn’t help,” said Louis. “What we need to do is show the rest of Canada that investing in communities with rich programs for young people and families is the best way to fight crime and set up our young people to be engaged and active citizens in our city.”
The following is a video of the presentation made to city council on behalf of COPE by Tim Louis: