Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton has sent a letter to the chair of the Capital Regional District planning, transportation and protective services committee in opposition to a plan to upgrade Langford fire dispatch.
The CRD is looking to establish Langford as a prominent regional fire dispatch centre and is proposing approximately $100,000 worth of upgrades to the centre. Hamilton argues that the CRD does not have the authority to do this and that the project will be a waste of taxpayers’ money, considering that Saanich already has a modern, well-established dispatch centre.
“The establishment of a new or reinvented fire dispatch service for the region is not prudent, necessary, nor cost effective, and therefore, the City of Colwood will not support this initiative,” reads the letter.
Hamilton would rather see efforts put into establishing a single fire dispatch for all of Greater Victoria. She stated that attention would be better paid to having Langford and all other local regions go through the Saanich dispatch, rather than spending money to upgrade Langford’s.
“The CRD cannot justify or provide a rational explanation to the taxpayers of Greater Victoria for establishing yet another dispatch service provider in this same region,” Hamilton wrote.
Langford councillor and CRD board member Denise Blackwell said it’s “unfortunate” Hamilton has written this letter and that she is speaking out against what Blackwell considers a great opportunity for Langford.
“We have a 30 year history of satisfaction with the fire departments that we dispatch for,” said Blackwell. “I think it’s unfortunate Colwood and View Royal decided they couldn’t wait to participate with the rest of the group, but that’s their decision and we don’t want to interfere with their decision, and we’d prefer they not interfere with ours.”
Colwood, along with View Royal, is getting set to switch its service from the Langford fire dispatch to Saanich this month.
The move comes because of dissatisfaction with Langford dispatch. Both Colwood and View Royal have entered into a five-year contract with Saanich and will pay about 20 per cent more for the service. For Colwood this means an increase from $63,000 to $76,000.
Currently there are four fire dispatch providers for the region: Saanich, Langford, Victoria and CFB Esquimalt. Langford services Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke and Port Renfrew, along with Saltspring Island and a number of other southern Gulf Islands.
A report by Planetworks Consulting Corporation in April 2011 for the CRD recommended either reducing service to two main providers or establishing a single provider for the entire region.