Invermere council had updates from a couple of groups at its mid-June council meeting.
Columbia Valley RCMP acting commander Grant Simpson was at the Tuesday, June 14th meeting to give council a quarterly police report, in which he explained that the detachment is not short-staffed, despite the recent retirement of former Staff Sergeant Marko Shehovac.
“We are at full strength,” he said, adding that this is because a surplus RCMP officer had recently transferred into the detachment to replace another officer who was supposed to transfer out, but the transfer of the leaving officer fell through, and now both of them are still in the detachment.
That detachment status will change again in September, however, said Simpson, when two current officers are scheduled to transfer out.
There were 767 calls for service in the Upper Columbia Valley during the quarter from March through May, slightly down from the 851 calls during the same period last year. In the district of Invermere specifically, there were 288 calls, up somewhat from the 231 during the same period last year.
“We’re going to watch those trends and monitor calls accordingly,” said Simpson, speaking after the meeting.
Simpson also highlighted the local detachment’s summer policing, which — thanks to some new funding – will include more quad patrols and boat patrols.
“You should see the (RCMP) boat out more often. It’s going to be moored this summer, so it’s easy for us to access,” he told the Echo. The boat had been kept moored about eight years ago, but the cost associated with that has kept it in the garage at the police headquarter every summer since, with the RCMP pulling it out and launching it as needed.
“But that can be cumbersome at times, especially when you’re trying to respond to calls,” said Simpson.
He also outlined to council the detachment’s top priorities — drug and alcohol abuse, police-community relations, traffic issues (including impaired driving and distracted driving), and domestic violence prevention.
Council also heard an update from the new multi-use centre’s fundraising committee.
Invermere councillor Justin Atterbury also is the fundraising committee chair and explained to his fellow council members that the committee plans to offer a limited number of sponsorship opportunities, each for a 30-year term, in the new centre to local companies.
“We trying to take a different angle than ‘we’re looking for donations’, and instead we’re selling it as an advertising opportunity,” he said, adding there will only be three main zones for sponsorship — in the lobby, on the rooftop patio and in the main room, with up to a four spots for sponsors in each location.
“There’s great value there,” said Atterbury.
Sponsorship opportunities — although they will be for 30-year terms — will be paid over the first five years of that term, he said, pointing out that a $50,000 sponsorship over five years breaks down to payments of $800 per month, but when looking at the total sponsorship timeframe, a $50,000 sponsorship breaks down to $130 a month.
“Compare that with the average highway billboard advertising cost in the valley, which is about $400 a month,” he said. “Then look again at breaking down that $50,000 sponsorship over five years. Say you use that $800 a month to pay for advertising on two highway billboards, one at each end of the valley, instead of for the multi-use sponsorship. At the end of that five years, that’s it, you’ve got nothing left, whereas with the multi-use centre sponsorship, you’ve still got another 25 years of advertising.”
“The reality is not many businesses in this valley can afford to write a one-off $100,000 cheque or $50,000 cheque for a donation, but if you break it down into a payment schedule over a certain number of months, then maybe some businesses can start to afford it,” said Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.
Council passed a motion directing staff to talk with the architect for the centre about incorporating sponsorship opportunities.