Police Chief Dan Kinsella speaks during a police board meeting in January. Photo: Zane Woodford

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Halifax’s chief of police laid out two more options for a trimmed-back budget for the force at a virtual meeting of the city’s board of police commissioners on Monday.

Chief Dan Kinsella originally presented the board with a cut of $5.5 million to his budget as part of the process to cut $85.4 million from the city’s overall operating budget. The $5.5 million cut would mean leaving 28 positions vacant in the department — 18 current vacancies (nine sworn officers and nine civilian positions) and 10 expected retirements (eight sworn officers and two civilians).

Kinsella has told the police board and councillors there was no threat to public safety due to the cuts, but he said there would inevitably be things not done due to the short-staffing.

The board of police commissioners approved the $5.5 million cut earlier this month, sending a recommendation in favour to Halifax regional council’s budget committee.

Concerned about cuts to emergency services, the budget committee asked the police and fire departments to come back with options cutting their budgets by $4.5 million and $3.5 million instead.

Kinsella’s new options would leave fewer positions vacant over the next year.

“With the $4.5 million in reduction proposal, we’re still going to have 19 staffing vacancies. With the ($3.5 million) we’ll still have 12. So that’s better. That gives us more officers to deploy,” he said.

“The takeaway from this is it’s not business as usual and as a result of that we’re not going to be able to fill every position because with either scenario we’re still going to have some vacancies.”

The original $5.5 million cut also included 61 full-time equivalent crossing guards off the job til at least September and six term layoffs. Those numbers would remain unchanged under any scenario.

The $5.5 million and $4.5 million cuts include a 25% reduction in budgeted overtime and court time. The $3.5 million cut would only reduce those budgets by 20%, according to Kinsella’s presentation.

The board voted to send the two options up to the budget committee for consideration along with the first. The budget committee meets Tuesday morning.


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Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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3 Comments

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  1. The Council has no ability to decide how the HRP budget is spent. Council does not get to pick and choose what to fund.
    The Council can only decide a budget amount as set out in By-Law P-100 section 8 (2) (e) which tasks the Board with : ‘ prepare and submit in consultation with the Chief of Police and the Chief Administrative Officer or delegate, to Council an annual budget for the municipal police service. The municipal council shall only exercise global budget approval and shall only accept the police service budget submitted to it by the board or refer back to the board with instructions that it be altered upward or downward by a specific dollar amount or percentage; ”
    Council now has to decide the total amount of the HRP budget.

    https://www.halifax.ca/sites/default/files/documents/city-hall/legislation-by-laws/By-LawP-100.pdf

    1. Did the article say that? Looks like it says that the City asked for what choices HRP would make if cuts were one of A,B,or C

      1. The choices are not any business of the city council and the CAO. The BOPC decides how the money is spent. After the budget amount is approved circumstances may change and the Chief may decide he has has other priorities and then he will go to the BOPC and ask them to approve changes to the budget priorities and the BOPC does not have to go back to the Council. The Police Act and a bylaw under the Police Act trumps the HRM Charter.
        In some other provinces the Police Board decides the budget and informs the council of the amount and the council has no ability to increase or decrease the budget amount.