Dean Fortin

Dean Fortin

Victoria mayor pushes for regional 911 system

“The current system just seems inadequate. Public safety, immediate response needs to be one of our top priorities.” – Mayor Dean Fortin

As Victoria’s mayor promotes the need for a regional 911 call centre, a state-of-the-art facility in Saanich with room for expansion is being left out of the conversation.

Last week, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin presented data to a Capital Regional District committee that shows the region suffers from a patchwork 911 system, where some residents wait minutes before reaching local emergency services.

“The current system just seems inadequate,” Fortin said. “Public safety, immediate response needs to be one of our top priorities.”

Costs aren’t yet clear, but VicPD and West Shore RCMP are exploring the benefits of moving Victoria’s 911 dispatch to a facility in Langford. Not included in that discussion is Saanich, which spent $600,000 in 2008 for a purpose-built, three-storey 911 dispatch centre that meets provincial earthquake standards and is backed up by Lower Mainland services.

The facility already dispatches police calls for Saanich and Oak Bay, and fire calls for Saanich, Oak Bay, Esquimalt, Sidney, Central Saanich and North Saanich.

View Royal and Colwood fire departments joined Saanich dispatch in May 2012 after cutting ties with Langford, citing better communication system redundancies and security of the purpose-built building.”

“Our door’s open,” said Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard. “The ground floor is used as an emergency operation centre, but we could convert it to a third floor of dispatch if we needed to. The technology is very, very easy and the space to co-locate people is easy, too.”

Part of Victoria’s motivation in relocating its 911 services is a need to upgrade dated technology and infrastructure, Fortin said. But when asked about the possibility of contracting out 911 services to Saanich, Fortin questioned Leonard’s absence from the  CRD working committee.

“There’s always an extra seat at the working committee table,” he said.

Leonard said Saanich chose not to join the committee because it already has what it needs.

“We’re part of the standing committee that deals with regional dispatch. But when Victoria and Langford wanted to work on creating a new dispatch centre, we didn’t need to be a part of that discussion because we’ve got one,” Leonard said.

Lower Mainland municipalities began consolidating emergency communications in the wake of San Fransisco’s 1989 earthquake and the 1994 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver.

E-Comm now serves 14 police and 18 fire departments throughout Metro Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast and up the Sea-to-Sky highway to Lillooet. Burnaby council signed on to the service in October and expects to save $100,000 annually by closing its city-run dispatch.

“I think this issue needs to reach out beyond local government responsibility, it needs to be a provincial government responsibility to provide a framework for that life-saving service,” said Dave Hodgins, an Esquimalt councillor and former B.C. fire commissioner. “It’s way beyond regional responsibilities. It’s life safety.”

Hodgins said E-Comm is a “great model,” and stressed any province-wide system ideally would be run by private contractors.

“Anytime you’re able to streamline the process and reduce the number of contact points, it reduces that risk of error,” he said.

Fortin said he’s still open to exploring all ideas for a regional emergency dispatch centre regardless of municipal boundaries. CRD staff are also developing an implementation strategy for a unified regional 911 centre.

“Clearly, the future holds some sort of integrated response. Whether that’s five or 20 years from now, it’s something we need to work forward towards. The weaknesses in the systems have been highlighted from the Lee case in Oak Bay and others. Our first consideration has to be about public safety, and we’ll worry about borders after that.”

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A sketch of the multi-use path that will connect Lagoon Beach and Royal Beach in Colwood. (Sketch courtesy of the City of Colwood)
Concepts for Colwood beach connector coming to council June 21

Major infrastructure project includes gathering places, public amenities and pathways

Victoria police are asking for witnesses who might have information about this tricycle that was stolen in downtown Victoria on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek witnesses after downtown Victoria company’s tricycle stolen

The three-wheeler was taken from the 2100-block of Store Street on Thursday

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Most Read