As of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 23 both the Colwood and View Royal fire departments made the switch from Langford to the Saanich fire dispatch service.
The switch went smoothly and within hours of the changeover several emergency calls had been taken by Saanich and “seamlessly dispatched to the two municipal fire departments under the new system,” said a statement from the City of Colwood.
The two municipalities decided to change dispatch services earlier this year, citing dissatisfaction with the Langford dispatch, which is under the purview of the Capital Regional District. Colwood and View Royal had been with Langford dispatch for nearly 25 years. A five-year contract with Saanich will increase costs for the municipalities but having access to more advanced technology in Saanich makes it worthwhile, proponents say.
“This progressive move to a modern dispatch centre at a responsible cost to our taxpayers will improve fire department response efficiencies,” stated Colwood fire chief Russ Cameron.
The move comes with some controversy as the CRD looks to upgrade the facilities in Langford at an estimated cost of $100,000 – an initiative Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton has openly opposed.
Langford councillor Denise Blackwell has said it’s “unfortunate” View Royal and Colwood decided to switch dispatches and not wait for the upgrades.
Langford dispatch services 16 fire departments including Metchosin, Highlands, Sooke and Port Renfrew, along with a number of Gulf Islands.