Have you ever seen a first-hand example of why communities like Valemount and McBride need Small Community Grants?
I mean, there are the obvious reasons, the reasons we read in the press releases.
“Grants are meant to help address infrastructure, administrative and service delivery priorities… Blah, blah, blah,” says blah, blah, blah.
There are the reasons of which we’re already aware.
Small communities struggle economically in ways larger communities do not, and there are situations like Valemount’s, where the Village has had to transition from one economic base to another.
And then, there are the reasons we don’t often hear about, likely because the reality sucks.
For example: the province’s Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing Program (TFRS).
Essentially, the program breaks down how the province will re-inject money it collects from traffic fines back into its communities.
But to fully understand it, one must understand the general structure of policing and RCMP cost in B.C.
The provincial government has broken it down for us here:
• Municipalities and local governments with a population of 5,000 and over (as determined by most recent Canadian Census data) become responsible for providing policing services within their municipal boundaries
• Municipalities and local governments with a population between 5,000 and 14,999 sign a Municipal Police Unit Agreement (MPUA) where the municipality shoulders 70 per cent of the RCMP cost
• Municipalities and local governments with a population of 15,000 and over, sign a MPUA where the municipality shoulders 90 per cent of the RCMP cost
• The remaining 30% and 10%, respectively, is paid by the federal government
The government will give away $55M in traffic fine revenue proceeds this year alone, and since 2009 its given away more than $485M.
The Robson Valley doesn’t have a community with a population of that size, and because it doesn’t, the Police Act says the local governments are not responsible for providing police services.
The RCMP in communities like McBride and Valemount are 100 per cent the responsibility of the province, and are paid for as such, meaning we don’t need kickbacks to help fund our police.
So, the expectation is that communities like ours survive off grants like the Small Community Grant, which we do.
One catch: Small Community Grants aid communities with populations of less than 20,000 people, meaning communities with populations between 5,000 and 20,000 qualify for both the Small Community Grant and the TFRS grant programs.
Now, I get life isn’t fair.
But to me, it sucks that as a tourism spot (more so now with VGD) — people who get ticketed in the Robson Valley pay the tickets — yet we don’t see the money re-injected in our community through the program we pay into (TFRS).
Whereas, communities with a slightly larger population are entitled to some money back in addition to the Small Community Grant.
The provincial government should review the system.
Small communities with busy highways like ours should get a small chunk of the Traffic Fine pie, even if it is a smaller, one-time payout.
Everybody has to pay their tickets, yes, but we as a community pay into the program, so we should see its benefits, regardless of who funds our police.