Today’s Poll

‘Operational’ challenges from NPD could affect city books

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
January 6th, 2023

The city’s police department has been beset with some ‘operational’ challenges and it could cause some financial hardship for the city down the road.

According to the City of Nelson’s 2022 third quarter report the Protective Services (Nelson Police Department) expenses are trending higher than in 2021, but the full impact is likely not apparent right now, said city chief financial officer Chris Jury in his quarterly report.

“Police have had some operational challenges this year, with several officers off injured or unavailable for duty,” he said. “This has led to an increase in overtime and associated costs.”

In October, three officers from the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) were brought in to offer relief for two months with the NPD, resulting in a loss of revenue that normally covers those wages.

While some additional budget was added in 2022 to cover one-time additional costs (funded through COVID relief), it was expected that by year end expenses will be over budget.

Those costs are normally funded through the RCMP, said Jury, and at the end of the year the financial effect will be more apparent.

“So, even though the labour may look like it would have been last year, the difference is on the revenue side we won’t be seeing that offset of them funding those officers for two months,” he said. “All officers have returned to the unit, however, as things normalize and are looking brighter.”

Other challenges have beset the department. In July it was announced that an internal request for an investigation of eight present and former Nelson police officers was underway, the provincial Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner confirmed.

OPCC deputy police complaint commissioner Andrea Spindler said in an email response that the investigation was related to “potential misconduct under the Police Act related to participation in a WhatsApp chat group, and the sharing of inappropriate content and messages including alleged racist comments.”

No officers were suspended during the investigation.

Other Q3 notes

• Transportation services spending is ahead of last year, but still trending within budget. Expenses are up from the prior year due primarily to increased snow fall and removal required during the first part of the year.

Snow removal costs were $370,000 higher than during the same period last year. An additional $190,000 was added to the budget earlier this year to assist with the November and December snowfall period.

• Transit operating expenses are trending higher than in 2021, due to higher repair and fuel costs. To the end of quarter three 2022, fleet fuel costs were $198,000, or 67 per cet higher than the $118,000 seen by the same time in 2021.

• Taxes have been billed and collected as expected, showing a five per cent budget increase over last year, which factors in the four per cent budget increase, plus new construction.

• Transit user fees: while continuing to see increases after the drop in ridership due to COVID-19, are still not back fully to pre-pandemic levels.

However, revenues are up significantly from 2021, and already surpassing budget. Transit pass sales to the end of November were $168,000, versus $155,000 for the full year in 2021.

“We are seeing a lot more of the passes being sold and getting back to that pre-pandemic level,” said Jury.

Source: City of Nelson budget meeting, December

Capital project notes

• Work is continuing on the Hall Street pier.

Installation of the joists is currently 85 per cent complete and wood decking is 35 per cent complete. The revised exterior canopy drawings have been finalized by the architect and have issued to trades for pricing.

• The Cottonwood Park washroom is substantially complete. City crews are finishing up the installation of the water line for the bathroom by year end. Construction of the parking lot will begin in 2023.

Source: City of Nelson budget meeting, December

Water and sewer

• Engineering and design work are almost complete for the construction of a treated-water reservoirs at the Mountain Station Water Treatment facility.

The 2,000 cubic metre reservoir will strengthen the treatment facility’s ability to meet high-demand situations including firefighting responses.

• 2022 water main upgrades consist primarily of work around Mary Hall in anticipation of the new health campus.

In 2023 the water utility upgrades program will continue to pursue projects building redundancy and connectivity in the distribution network in the downtown area. The projects, although smaller in terms of pipe replacement are more complex, are space-constrained and require large amounts of customer communication.

• A draft of the Strategic Wastewater Plan was received in the Fall.

The City of Nelson administration and their partner Urban Systems will be presenting an in-depth breakdown of the Strategic Wastewater Plan to council in January. This will provide guidance on direction of the utility going forward in expectation of future growth.

Any upgrades to lift stations planned for the year will be timed to coincide with the master plan in order to ensure alignment with the overall plan.

Source: City of Nelson budget meeting, December

Categories: General

Other News Stories