It’s a proverbial drop in the bucket, but a proposed $2 million increase for policing in Halifax continues to spark much criticism and debate.
At a time when defunding the police has become a popular concept, some say the money would be better spent elsewhere, but not everyone agrees.
In his backyard sanctuary, ex-cop Tony Burbridge finds peace and relaxation.
Retired for 10 years last April, the former sous-chef always keeps abreast of the news concerning his former employer.
What he’s been hearing lately, he says, is for the birds.
“Over the years, I’ve known advisers who said, ‘I’ve had five or six calls from people. And I used to tell them, ‘When you get calls from five or six thousand people, you have a problem,’ Burbridge said.
While painful at the best of times, the current budget consultation in Halifax has taken an interesting turn regarding a planned $2 million increase for policing in the city.
With an increase of about 2% and barely approved by the police commission earlier this month, opponents were still lining up to urge the council to shut it down during the public part of a city budget committee meeting. Halifax Regional on Wednesday.
“I strongly believe that increasing the police budget is dangerous, irresponsible and negligent,” said Carmel Farahbakhsh, who opposes the proposed budget increase.
‘There was so much to say, against this increase in police funding and the way it was voted down, I felt compelled to speak out now,’ said Lori Curtis, who opposes the increase proposed budget.
“In 2020, when HRP sought to purchase a war vehicle, and the public was strongly dissenting, and the Black Lives Matter Movement gained momentum and opened many eyes to the racism within our systems and political institutions, there was a lot of discussion that led to talks and agreements to cut funding for the police,” Isabel Tees said.
There has also been strong criticism of the police force following the dismantling of a homeless camp in Halifax last summer.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella took much of the heat but still argues the budget hike would pay more than two dozen new officers – some of whom are dedicated to sexual assault and hate crimes .
He also wants to remedy the lack of personnel.
CTV News requested an interview with Kinsella on Wednesday, but was told he was part of the ongoing budget process and would not be doing interviews while that process is underway.
Burbridge says there’s a lot at stake for the chef.
“If the mayor and council don’t say yes to the police commission at the chief’s request, I expect him to resign,” he said.
As part of the 2022/2023 budget process, each municipal business unit presents its proposed business plan and budget.
The regional council then debates the budget changes and sends them back for a final decision on Wednesday, March 23.
The full approval of the budget will take place on Tuesday 12 April.