By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: June 16, 2017
Squamish has decided to not pay the invoices the RCMP has submitted to the district for DNA analyses. District spokesperson Christina Moore said council decided that district not pay the DNA analysis invoice and send a letter asking for more information on how the province will protect the municipality if faced with large-scale DNA investigation, and to allow for a longer term to pay the costs.
With costs expected to increase and the district having no such control over costs, council believes the possibility of a cap should be investigated.
Municipalities such as Squamish have been protesting the costs as yet another provincial download of financial cost to local government. Squamish council also sent a motion to LGLMA, asking the province pay 100 per cent of the RCMP cost for the DNA analysis. DNA analysis for police investigations is done at federal labs under an agreement between federal and provincial government. The agreement expired three years later and in 2015, local governments were told they would have to pay a portion of the DNA analysis cost.
The municipalities were told the expenses would be invoiced based on their casework and in 2015/2016, the district was billed $3,011 according to the cost sharing formula set by the province. In 2017, the invoice for such the DNA analyses would be $17,424. For the next two years, the district estimates the cost to be close to $19,000.
Decrying this cost transfer as a downloading of provincial judicial responsibility, several municipalities wrote letters expressing concerns to then Minister of Justice, Suzanne Anton. Squamish council discussed the issue in several meetings in 2016, and on February 16, 2016 passed a motion to write a letter to Minister Anton outlining the district’s concerns.
Council also passed a motion last year in March to submit a resolution to LMLGA and to continue the political discussion with the leader of the Opposition and the leader of the Green Party. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has also discussed this issue with multiple parties working on behalf of their membership about the transfer of costs. The province, however, hasn’t budged from its decision on cost sharing.