That sound you hear at this time of the year is municipal councils gnashing their teeth, trying to crunch numbers so they will fit the must-dos and wish lists into their budgets.
So, requests from Sooke Fire Rescue and RCMP for a bump in staffing should be an absolute no-brainer, especially when you factor in how Sooke’s population has exploded during the past 10-plus years. The increase from 11,435 residents in 2011 to more than 16,431 in 2021 represents a 32 per cent leap.
You can also make the case that adding enough firefighters and police officers to provide the coverage Sooke deserves is long overdue because staffing levels have been pretty much frozen in time for more than a decade.
Council endorsed the additions at a recent meeting and tasked staff with developing a plan to implement them, one that won’t result in residents surrounding the municipal hall with pitchforks and torches when the inevitable tax increase hits.
With governments and the people they represent still reeling from the burdens imposed by three years of a pandemic that descended from the sky onto an unsuspecting planet, it becomes a question of priorities. Addressing help for the homeless, the drug epidemic, health care and the cost of living have all taken a hit.
There will always be pain and protest with spikes in taxes by any level of government, but this is not about financing a vanity project or cementing some politician’s legacy. It’s about providing adequate protection for the people in this community.
The way the population is mushrooming, adding five police officers and six career firefighters over three years will only get us up to speed for the time being. It’s not a long-term fix, considering staffing levels have been frozen in time for more than a decade.
And, frankly, if we’ve learned anything during the past three years, the longer you wait, the more it will cost.
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