Budget deficit prompts Igloolik hamlet to lay off bylaw officers
"It's unlikely the RCMP will take over that role... our priorities will be focused in other areas"
The north Baffin community of Igloolik will soon be without bylaw enforcement and animal control officers due to the hamlet’s running deficit, Igloolik’s interim senior administrative officer, Shawn Stuckey, told Nunatsiaq News March 3.
“The hamlet had overspent their budget and went into deficit last year, so this is part of the plan for next year’s budget, to ensure a surplus,” Stuckey said.
A deficit recovery plan, approved by council, is now in place, Stuckey said.
This plan includes a number of layoffs, including both of the community’s bylaw officers and their only animal control officer. All three have been given two-weeks notice.
Stuckey, who said he’s only been on the job for three weeks, said the layoffs are indefinite, with no future plans in place at this time to reinstate the positions.
“I hope we can minimize the impacts, and we can address any animal issues as they arise,” Stuckey said.
The SAO also said the hamlet would work with the local RCMP to offset the absence of bylaw and animal control officers.
RCMP Cpl. Tom Graham, the supervisor on duty for the Igloolik police March 3, has been stationed in the community since October.
“I don’t feel I have enough experience to comment on how [the layoffs] will impact us, but it’s going to affect us, no doubt, because we rely heavily on our bylaw officers, including the animal control officer,” Graham said.
Graham said Igloolik residents have been under a 10 p.m. curfew since before he arrived in October, but that curfew will now likely go unenforced.
“In a normal circumstance, the curfew would fall under the bylaw officers’ mandate, and we’d assist them,” Graham said.
“It’s unlikely the RCMP will take over that role. It’s not like we’re refusing to enforce it, it’s simply that our priorities will be focused in other areas,” he said.
A concerned Igloolik resident told Nunatsiaq News that, despite the deficit, getting rid of bylaw officers doesn’t make sense, especially because “crime rates are through the roof” in the community.
“Bylaw [officers] really helped enforce the curfew, and drove around, night and day, to deter break-ins,” said the resident, who asked to remain anonymous.
The Igloolik police are sometimes called to deal with animal concerns as well, Graham said, usually for the odd polar bear or, more commonly, dogs at large.
Although police and hamlet officials will work together to compensate for the absence of the bylaw and animal control officers, that absence “will put an additional strain” on the Igloolik RCMP detachment, Stuckey said.