Victoria cop pushes Esquimalt to release policing proposal

Council still weighing formal response to mediator’s report

One Esquimalt resident is taking a fight for transparency to the B.C. privacy commissioner.

David Bratzer, a civic transparency advocate and Victoria police officer, wants Esquimalt to release the RCMP’s policing proposal for the township.

But muncipal staff turned down his request, citing federal privacy legislation as reason to keep the documents secret.

“In their letter, they stated they couldn’t release (the proposal) because it would cause harm if it was released to the public,” Bratzer said.

Esquimalt council was in favour of terminating policing services with VicPD and creating a 35-member RCMP detachment, a move it claims would have saved $2 million annually for local taxpayers.

But the province overruled the request in June and provided a mediator’s report that put forward 43 recommendations to Victoria and Esquimalt.

They include changing VicPD’s name to “Victoria-Esquimalt Police Department” as well as urging greater regional cost-sharing on policing for the downtown core.

Council is still weighing how to proceed with a formal response to the report, but Mayor Barb Desjardins told staff on Monday to push for a meeting with Premier Christy Clark before the upcoming Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in September.

Coun. Megan Brame said she supports the recommendations but wants to ensure they can be enforced by the province.

“We need to know if they have teeth,” she told council.

Bratzer said he expects the privacy commissioner to respond to his complaint within three months, but the resolution depends on Esquimalt’s co-operation in a mediated process.

“For me, this is strictly about transparency and governance,” Bratzer said, stressing he is pursuing the matter as a civilian. “We all have an interest in public safety.”