More delays expected in Esquimalt policing decision

Public receives invitation to future township policing panel meetings

It may be at least this fall before B.C’s justice minister decides whether to allow Esquimalt to sign a contract with the RCMP – almost a year longer than Esquimalt’s mayor hoped it would take.

“We assumed in this process this would have gone a lot faster than it’s gone,” Mayor Barb Desjardins said. “We sent in the report (with the township’s policing preference) in June (2011). I would have hoped we would have had a response by the end of the year (2011).”

The delayed reply from the newly renamed Justice Ministry stems from the complications of ongoing contract negotiations between the RCMP and the province, the mayor said.

“Until that contract is finalized, we can’t update numbers or have an understanding of any changes that are within that contract that (could impact a contract between the RCMP and Esquimalt),” Desjardins said.

It could be the end of March before the RCMP’s contract with the province is renegotiated and signed, she said.

Then the Esquimalt Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel will finally be able to go to the RCMP and get answers the panel has been asked to supply the province.

It could be the fall before that happens, Desjardins said.

In the meantime, council has directed the policing panel to allow the public, for the first time, to attend, provide input and ask questions at future panel meetings.

No meetings have yet been scheduled, but more are in the works, the mayor said.

The last time the community had a chance to interact with panel members was in 2009 and 2010 when forums were held to elicit public feedback before the panel sent its policing preference to the province, said Desjardins, who chairs the panel.

The Victoria Police Department and the RCMP were the only two agencies that submitted bids to police the township.

“Since submitting the report (in June), we really haven’t been able to do much as a panel, let alone engage the public,” Desjardins said.

The Esquimalt Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel meeting schedule will be posted at www.esquimalt.ca.