Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins is calling on the Victoria Police Department and the RCMP to release details of their policing services proposals to the public.
Council held a closed-door meeting on Wednesday to discuss how to respond to Justice Minister Shirley Bond’s decision to accept a mediator’s recommendation that allows VicPD to continue to provide police services to Esquimalt. The township’s own police advisory panel had recommended switching to RCMP contract policing.
“We’d like those submissions to be released, because it’s very difficult for people to understand what they’re getting or not getting if they don’t have that information,” Desjardins said. “The RCMP were recommended because they best fit the model that we received from community input.”
Desjardins said concerns about the cost, governance and service delivery under the current VicPD contract have motivated council to seek legal advice to determine if the township can challenge the province on the issue.
“Our residents are wondering why council is continuing to question this, but what they don’t know is what was offered to them,” she said. “There’s just a lot of angst in the community.”
Coun. Dave Hodgins, who walked out of last Wednesday in-camera meeting in protest, said public angst can be attributed in part to council’s closed-door decision to spend more money on a drawn-out debate.
“Some say we’ve already spent $300,000, others are saying $500,000 when you consider staff and council time. Does our public want us to put more money into this?” he asked.
Hodgins hopes council will embrace the mediator’s report and resolve sticking points around governance and finance with the City of Victoria and VicPD in the coming months.
The mediator’s report will be open to public discussion at a special council meeting on Monday (July 9) at 7 p.m.