Back to the drawing board.
The Waterloo Regional Police Services Board is asking for more options when it comes to how many new hires should be approved as part of next year's budget.
The request comes as the board took a first look at a draft proposal for 2023/24 during a meeting Wednesday. The 'first blush' draft suggesting, at a minimum, the cost of policing in the region will climb north of $200-million dollars next year -- though how far north of that number will largely depend on how many new full-time officers are approved for hire.
The four options presented: status quo (no new officers), eight new hires, eleven, or 55.
"I must say I'm a little confused with [those] options," said Ian McLean. "There has to be more options than 55 and, basically, not even really standing pat."
"I'm mystified that's the range that we have at this point," he added. "I want to see the options and how it affects the service and the delivery of service for the community."
Concern over a missing middle-ground was also an issue for a number of other WRPS board members.
"I was a bit shocked with the eight, and eleven as well," said Tony Giovinazzo. "I'd like something more holistic derived from the service that really reflects what is needed to continue to provide the services, to meet the challenges that we are facing and that our community is requiring."
He said efforts to balance an uncertain economy are appreciated but also noted not properly managing crime and safety would likely carry an economic hit as well.
The board, meantime, was also clear it would like to see a full range of options as part of the next draft - not simply a single new choice in the middle.
"I would be uncomfortable if, in the next blush, we're getting eight, eleven, and 45," said Karen Schnarr. "Just to be very specific, I think what [WRPS] is hearing from the board is that it's too big a leap."
As is, the cost of policing in the Region of Waterloo is projected to climb at least 7 per cent next year to nearly $210-million with no new full-time hires added. That rises to $222-million if the board were to move ahead with the high-point option for 55 new hires, a year-over-year increase of 13.5 per cent.
Regional Council is expected to approve a new policing budget in early February.