A last-minute dispute over policing costs at the annual Langley Good Times Cruise-In — which almost led to the Sept. 10 event being cancelled, appears to have been resolved.
The question of whether this year’s event would go ahead in just over two weeks’ time arose following the receipt of an email from the City to the volunteer board of directors on Tuesday night. It stated that owing to the “loss of the RCMP Auxiliary volunteers that have supported the Cruise-In event for the past several years,” paid full-time officers would have to be used for crowd control on Friday and Saturday.
The move came as a result of a change in RCMP policy that limits the use of volunteer officers. The changes were made following the 2015 shootings of a regular duty officer and an auxiliary at an Alberta casino. The full-time officer died as a result of his injuries.
The message from City recreation supervisor Tera Edell arrived Tuesday evening with an invoice for the estimated extra costs of using full-time paid officers of $11,770. It asked that 50 per cent, $5,885, be paid by Aug. 31 and the remaining balance of $5,885, paid by Sept. 23.
“Just this past week I had the opportunity to meet with them (Cruise-In representatives), and at that time it was decided that the Langley Good Times Cruise-In Society will be responsible to pay the additional cost,” Edell wrote.
Cruise-In board of directors president Wayne Patterson had a different view.
Patterson sent an email response to the City later the same night in which he wrote that the 2016 show would be cancelled “if the board does not get this outrageous request rebutted …”
“We can’t put on a charity car show and have no money left at the end to give to charity,” Patterson later told The Times.
After Patterson spoke with City of Langley Mayor Ted Schaffer Wednesday morning, Schaffer said the City would take on the additional bill, as “we want to see this be a positive for the City.”
Schaffer said the City is already contributing $43,000 for policing the event, not including the additional $11,770 cost.
“The City fully supports the Good Times Cruise-In, and we as a sponsor value the hard work that the Cruise-In Society does,” the mayor added.
As a result, the event will proceed as planned.
“Cruise-In is not cancelled, it’s a go-ahead,” Patterson said.
Mayor Schaffer told The Times that he wasn’t aware of the conversations about paying the extra police costs taking place between City staff and the Cruise-In volunteers.
“Myself, I wasn’t aware of any (such) conversations until 11 o’clock last night. So for myself, I was totally blindsided,” he said.
The mayor said Cruise-In directors were advised by the City “that there could be some unforeseen costs pertaining to the (RCMP) auxiliary program” in July, and again at an Aug. 3 meeting .
City Coun. Gayle Martin said council was not informed of the invoice being sent to Cruise-In directors because City staff believed an agreement had been reached where Cruise-In would cover the added policing costs, and under those circumstances, councillors didn’t require notification.
If staff thought there was an issue, “there is no doubt in my mind that council would have been apprised of the matter,” Martin said.
Martin told The Times that an internal memo sent to council from CAO Francis Cheung said the City subsidizes an estimated $65,000 to $70,000 each year for Cruise-In (including the $43,000 for policing).
A separate report also indicated the City incurred an additional $10,000 in flagging costs last year because Cruise-In didn’t have enough volunteers, Martin said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the City issued a statement affirming its support of the annual Cruise-In and the volunteers who organize and run it.
“Due to the Langley Good Times Cruise-In’s success, this event cannot be treated like any other day in the community, with thousands of cars placed in our downtown streets and hundreds of thousands of visitors enjoying this unique car show,” the statement reads.
“With the event’s highly anticipated attendance, the City must increase community services such as policing costs to enforce traffic regulations, unsanctioned vehicle performances, disorderly conduct, and open alcohol being consumed on streets in the downtown core.
“As a City, it’s our job to ensure safety for citizens, community members and visitors.
“The City of Langley has and will continue to support the Langley Good Times Cruise-In.”
In the statement, Mayor Schaffer said “many organizations have benefited through the generosity of the funds raised by the Cruise-In and we continue to support their event.”
Langley City Council and the Langley Good Times Cruise-In’s Board of Directors will meet following this year’s event “to ensure improved communication and more positive outcomes in future years” the statement concluded.
By Dan Ferguson and Miranda Gathercole, Langley Times