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B.C. policing contract viewed with optimism by Esquimalt

A 20-year contract renewed between the province and the RCMP is being touted as a "positive step forward" by Esquimalt representatives.

The signing of the agreement last week removes a hurdle "to moving forward with policing decisions in Esquimalt," Mayor Barb Desjardins, who chairs Esquimalt's Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel, said in a statement released Thursday.

The panel submitted a request to the province last June, asking that the township be allowed to sign a police services contract with the RCMP. Esquimalt wants out of the current arrangement with the Victoria Police Department.

"The signing of this contract between B.C. and the RCMP shows confidence in the ability of the RCMP to police at both the regional and municipal level," Desjardins said.

She had hoped to hear back from Justice Minister Shirley Bond on the township's request by the end of 2011.

With the new contract in place, the Esquimalt policing panel can now ask the RCMP for information needed to update its proposal. Desjardins has long said those details are required by the province.

Justice Ministry staff are in the process of reviewing the results of an independent report submitted by a mediator at the end of January. The mediator reviewed governance and funding-model problems, among other issues, that are plaguing the Victoria police board.

Discussions around those issues have begun between Justice Ministry officials and representatives from Esquimalt and Victoria.

"It is important that there be an opportunity for these discussions to occur before any final decision on Esquimalt’s policing services," a ministry spokesperson said.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Did you know?

• The public is welcome to attend the second open meeting of the Esquimalt Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel on May 9 at 5 p.m. in council chambers at Municipal Hall, 1229 Esquimalt Rd.

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