Policing Campbell River’s downtown Overdose Prevention Site/Sobering and Assessment Centre has cost the city $298,413 in the last two years in salary alone.
“I couldn’t even believe it when I was reading this,” said Coun. Kermit Dahl at the Sept. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting. “We’ve spent $298,413 to police one building and 1.4 officers dedicated to one building. And we’ve had no impact whatsoever. That’s $150,000 a year for one building.”
What Coun. Dahl was reading was an update from the Campbell River RCMP on the 1330 Dogwood Street Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) / Sobering and Assessment Centre (SAC). Councillors were told that usage of the OPS/SAC has dramatically increased since it moved to the 1330 Dogwood St. location in June 2020.
In total there were 453 police files generated in the first two years since the re-location of the OPS/SAC. That was far more than the site that generated the next most files, the Campbell River Walmart, which had 363 files.
The cost to attend 1330 Dogwood St. OPS/SAC equated to the salary equivalent of 1.4 full time police officers and does not include pension and benefit costs or training and equipment costs.
The complaints requiring RCMP members to attend the centre included people camping outside the centre and complaints associated with drug consumption: belligerent, abusive behaviour and violence.
Council members re-affirmed the need to raise this issue with the provincial government and pointed out that Campbell River will be putting forward a motion at the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) convention demanding action. Coun. Claire Moglove said the report gives councillors hard data that they can take to the different provincial ministers who they’ll be lobbying for funding and resources to deal with the problem.
“The timing of this (report) is absolutely perfect in as much as we’re going to UBCM next week, and now we have figures – facts and figures,” Moglove said. “This is really important.”
Mayor Andy Adams said, “I think the discussion that we’re going to be moving ahead with with the Ministry has got to be direct and to the point. And that municipalities across the province and across the country do not have the financial resources to deal with what is a provincial issue of mental health and addiction. And that’s where we need the province to step up and provide the enforcement, the facilities and the care that’s required to address those that are in severe need or need to be looked after.”