Council’s committee-of-the-whole Monday signalled Saanich’s interest in learning more about amalgamation. Councillors also asked Mayor Richard Atwell to invite other mayors for a meeting into regional policing. Black Press File.

Council’s committee-of-the-whole Monday signalled Saanich’s interest in learning more about amalgamation. Councillors also asked Mayor Richard Atwell to invite other mayors for a meeting into regional policing. Black Press File.

Saanich looks into creating a regional police force

Mayor says Saanich needs to talk about regional policing, but questions remain

Saanich has initiated a series of steps to learn more about amalgamation and the creation of a regional police force.

Council, meeting as committee-of-the-whole, passed a motion that calls on the province to establish and fund a citizens’ assembly on amalgamation with interested municipalities in the Capital Regional District.

“If council supports this motion, it is saying, Saanich is interested in getting into the discussion [around amalgamation], Saanich is interested in getting information to make future decisions about it,” said Coun. Susan Brice.

A citizens’ assembly is a deliberative forum, which the provincial government defines as an “independent assembly of randomly selected individuals with a mandate to examine an issue over an extended period of time and make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.”

Perhaps the most famous citizens’ assembly of recent memory was the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, which recommended the Single-Transferable Vote (STV).

Smaller jurisdictions have also used this “well-based mechanism for tapping into community interest” as Brice called it, including Duncan and North Cowichan, whose residents will be voting on amalgamation in the spring of 2018.

Coun. Karen Harper pointed to this precedent in offering her support for an assembly, which the province should fund. “This is an excellent first step, and I do think…by voting in favour of this we are indicating that Saanich is indeed an interested party.”

Saanich also signaled support for the creation of a regional police force by asking Mayor Richard Atwell to invite mayors for a meeting. While all municipalities will receive the invitation, only Victoria, Oak Bay and Central Saanich maintain their own municipal forces alongside Saanich.

Other CRD members contract policing through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Coun. Colin Plant said he remains concerned about the possibility that a regional police force could concentrate resources in downtown Victoria. “But I think we need, and we owe it to our residents and the residents of the region to at least have the discussion.”

Atwell said Saanich needs to talk about regional policing, but questions remain. Who would hold it accountable, he asked. “Would it report to the CRD? Would it report to us? What would we be losing? What would we be retaining control of?”

But if Atwell generally supported the idea, Coun. Leif Wergeland said Saanich should not discuss the possibility before having done its own homework first.

Council’s committee-of-the-whole made these decisions after reviewing the findings of a committee that had reviewed the findings of a report from the Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee (GRCAC).

Saanich launched GRCAC after almost nine out of 10 Saanich voters supported a “community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and its partnerships within the region” during the 2014 municipal election against the background of amalgamation, the proposed merger of communities in Greater Victoria to cut governance costs.

Monday’s meeting thus marked a milestone, but council met before a largely empty gallery. But the meeting nonetheless had an aura of anticipation, as the recommendation from the review committee had become public last week. It sparked controversy among GRCAC members and others, who had participated in the $100,000 process.

Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association, said the review committee lacked leadership.

James Anderson was even more critical. “As I read the memo to [council] of Dec. 12, it is clear that [the] majority of shortcomings identified and remedies suggested in the report have been ignored, despite the clarifications, you have offered,” he said.

Several hours later Anderson had changed his mind. “Hold the presses. Nice to see that the council has taken control and was willing to step up and respect the work of the task force.”

Just Posted

New changes are being proposed to four streets in James Bay to allow better access for cyclists. Residents have until June 11 to provide feedback. (Black Press Media file photo)
New revisions to James Bay bike lanes open for feedback

Routes on Government and Montreal streets planned for 2022

An elderly man having a medical emergency in Mount Douglas Park on May 13 was rescued by firefighters and paramedics with the help of ATVs. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Rescue team uses ATVs get man in medical distress out of Saanich park and to hospital

Cedarhill Road closed as firefighters, paramedics rescue man in Mount Douglas Park

While recovering several items reported stolen from the set of a Netflix movie in early April, West Shore RCMP also seized drugs and drug trafficking items from a Colwood residence last week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Electronics, credit cards taken from Neflix set found in Colwood home

West Shore RCMP seize stolen items, drugs, trafficking materials

Saanich police used a drone to investigate a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal West Saanich Road crash

Driver who died veered across center line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Most Read