A regionalized police force between the Capital Region’s municipalities is not likely to happen soon. (Black Press Media file photo)

Province will not take action in establishing a regional police force for Greater Victoria

Regionalized police department requires local push, province says

The provincial government says a regionalized Greater Victoria police force is a supportable idea but requires action on a local level.

On July 5, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth penned a letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. The letter was written in response to an April letter from the City of Victoria after councillors unanimously endorsed the idea to establish a regional police force.

“Integration or regionalization has the potential to benefit the delivery of policing and law enforcement in a community. This government continues to be supportive of integration and regionalization where appropriate,” Farnworth said.

“However, any change to policing and law enforcement in the Capital Region is a decision for the municipalities involved and their elected officials, subject to my overall responsibility to ensure adequate and effective policing and public safety in B.C.”

READ MORE: Appeal by Victoria to province for regional police puts pressure on Saanich

Farnworth also added he’d be open to any proposals put forward jointly by CRD municipalities.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who also sits as the co-chair of the Victoria Police Board, said a complete regionalization of all 13 municipalities would be unlikely because some areas, such as Metchosin and the Highlands, have more rural needs than other CRD municipalities. Without provincial support for a regional force, she’d rather that municipalities focus more on current and future integrated police units.

“We’re not looking at integration, but better governance of integrated units for better public safety, better oversight and making sure the money is being well spent,” Helps said. “Getting things done takes conversation, cooperation and collaboration, and nothing good comes from imposing anything on anyone.”

ALSO READ: Former Saanich councillor candidate questions proposed mandate for citizens’ assembly

Current integrated teams comprised of officers and experts from across the Capital Region include the Integrated Mobile Response Team, the Integrated Road Safety Unit, the Mobile Youth Service Team, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team, the Crowd Management Unit, the Regional Domestic Violence Unit, Crimestoppers, the Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit and the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.

Oak Bay Police board chair and Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said the district hasn’t heard any official proposals about an integrated police force but would be open to ideas.

“While the Oak Bay Police board would look seriously at any proposal put forward, Oak Bay enjoys a high level of service and low per-capita policing costs under the current model, and I expect the community would want to ensure the quality of policing continued under any new model,” Murdoch said.

ALSO READ: Central Saanich joining Greater Victoria integrated 911 dispatch centre

“It should be noted that Oak Bay and other police forces already have a large number of regional services … and Oak Bay currently contributes both to funding and staffing these services. “

One area where integration of police forces could come together sooner than later is between the Victoria and Saanich police departments, which are part of the amalgamation discussions coming forward with the newly-established citizen’s assembly.

Black Press Media reached out to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who in the past has opposed the idea of regional policing, but he did not respond in time for publication.

Victoria city council is set to discuss the letter at a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Capital Regional District

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

Just Posted

Victoria Clipper suspends services through April 2021

International travel restrictions, COVID-19 uncertainty lead to decision

Who is the average Sookie?

Statistics Canada, community members offer glimpse into who the people of Sooke are

Storytime transformed in Saanich Peninsula parks

Saanich Peninsula Literacy offering free self-guided StoryWalks

UPDATED: Power restored to Metchosin, Colwood

Monday morning outage impacts more than 2,600 BC Hydro customers

‘Someone knows something’: a look into Vancouver Island missing persons with interactive map

There are more than three dozen people listed as missing throughout Vancouver Island

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read