The idea of a regional police force for Greater Victoria is back on the table, and even VicPD’s chief is on board with a review of the matter.
The region’s two largest municipalities started the ball rolling again on the conversation, with Victoria and Saanich councils passing motions this week recommending local municipalities open discussions on the idea. Both motions also ask the provincial government to establish and fund a citizen’s assembly on general amalgamation with interested municipalities.
Victoria police Chief Const. Del Manak supports reviewing the idea of a regional police department and equated Greater Victoria’s current model with each neighbourhood in the City of Vancouver having its own police force. A regional force would make the delivery of service more efficient, he said, and would make it easier to do cross-jurisdictional work.
But for it to be truly effective, Manak believes a regional government is necessary.
“The model we currently have is not the most efficient and effective model for the delivery of services, including policing,” he said. “Even though we communicate and discuss incidents, there are criminals that are crossing borders every day when you have smaller borders.
“I believe in [having] the proper governance structure in place before there is a regional police force. There should be one region, one municipality, and that provides the proper government structure for all the special services.”
Coun. Jeremy Loveday brought the motion to Victoria council’s committee of the whole Thursday, Jan. 11. He voted in favour of amalgamation on the referendum held during the last civic election, and said regional policing makes sense.
“It’s been 100 years that our communities have been having these discussions, and it’s time to either move forward or not, and put this to rest for maybe a few decades,” he said.
Mayor Lisa Helps said she is meeting with Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell next week to discuss regional policing.
“There is willingness in Victoria, Esquimalt and Saanich to move in this direction,” she said. “If we get there, then Oak Bay will have to come along, quite frankly.”
Establishing a regional police force is one of the services that have been considered by local governments in previous discussions on amalgamation. Victoria-Esquimalt, Saanich, Oak Bay and Central Saanich have municipal departments, while the RCMP are contracted to police the West Shore and Sidney-North Saanich.
– By Lauren Boothby