Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in the southern Vancouver Island being asked by the province to start paying the bills for E-Comm’s police dispatch service by 2022. (E-Comm 911)

Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in the southern Vancouver Island being asked by the province to start paying the bills for E-Comm’s police dispatch service by 2022. (E-Comm 911)

Province wants Sooke to cover police 911 costs by 2022

Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in southern Island rollout plan

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was shocked to find out that E-Comm, the southern Island’s centre for 911-dispatch calls, would begin sending invoices to her municipality instead of the province starting in 2022.

The additional cost comes after the province sent a letter in mid-December, explaining that Sooke and seven other RCMP-serviced municipalities within southern Vancouver Island are expected to cover the costs to fund all police call-taking and dispatch services.

The province hasn’t clarified any total costs to Tait but has provided a two-year transition plan.

In 2022, the province will contribute 70 per cent of the total cost, while municipalities will be responsible for the remaining 30 per cent. In 2023, the province’s share drops to 35 per cent and the municipality to 65 per cent.

By 2024, the municipality is expected to cover 100 per cent of E-Comm’s dispatch services.

READ MORE: Late food, CERB and soiled mattresses: E-Comm releases worst 911 calls of 2020

“I was floored when I found out that this is what they intended to do,” said Tait, past president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

“When are they going to provide transparency on the financial impact? The percentages don’t mean anything. If it’s $20,000, I can deal with that, but if it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, then what? I’m just really concerned.”

In the letter, the province pointed out that telecommunication is a municipal responsibility under section 3.6 of the Municipal Police Unit Agreements, without any cost to the province or Canada. They add that Lower Mainland RCMP-policed municipalities have similar contracts with E-Comm as well.

“I really think that this is a stretch,” said Sooke’s chief administrative officer Norm McInnis during Monday’s council meeting. “That section has always been about administrative help. It has never been about dispatch […] This could be a significant cost to the District of Sooke.”

Sooke isn’t the only municipality expected to carry the load.

ALSO READ: 74 % of 911 calls are from cellphones, so know your location: E-Comm

Colwood, View Royal, Langford, North Saanich, Ladysmith and North Cowichan are expected to pick up the cost in 2022.

“I’m incredibly frustrated,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin. “This is not something that we’re supportive of at all because it not only came as a surprise, but we weren’t included in any consultations. To this day, we don’t know the ramifications from a financial standpoint.”

Martin added that a large unexpected bill could throw a wrench in their plans, as they’re currently forming Colwood’s five-year financial plan. He said $20,000 could be reasonable, but if it’s $200,000, then the story changes.

For Tait, that could mean holding off on hiring an additional police officer in a region that is already understaffed. Sooke needs 22 officers to have 24-hour coverage, while they currently only have 17 police officers on the force.

Sooke council voted to write a letter in response to the province, asking for further details about the potential cost. Meanwhile, Martin said he wouldn’t present it at council until he gets some solid numbers on his desk.

RELATED: Sooke needs more officers to accommodate 24-hour coverage


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

Emergency callsSooke council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read