EDITORIAL: Time for mayors to chat on 911

Saanich and Victoria mayors need to talking conflicting plans for dispatch centre

In many ways, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin’s call for a unified 911 call centre for the Capital Region makes a lot of sense.

The end goal has to be safety and reliability of services, quickly, for Greater Victoria residents in the event of an emergency.

Read between the lines, however, and it’s clear this is the latest example of how Victoria, the commercial and governmental hub for the region, and Saanich, the region’s largest municipality, don’t seem to want to play ball together.

Comments made to the News (story, Page 1) on this issue by Fortin and Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard boldly illustrate this problem.

Saanich has a purpose-built, state-of-the-art 911 dispatch centre facility built to stand up in an earthquake. And it has space available.

Victoria could potentially contract its services to Saanich or lobby for locating a regional dispatch centre where facilities already stand, but has yet to make moves in that direction.

While Fortin argues that Saanich is not part of discussions around the creation of a regional dispatch centre, Leonard questions why it needs to be. It already has a near-new facility, he says, one that provides police dispatch services for Saanich and Oak Bay residents and fire dispatch for itself and five other Capital Region municipalities.

While his track record proves otherwise, Fortin says he’s open to exploring all ideas for a regional call centre, regardless of municipal boundaries. Leonard could stand to weigh in on the discussion and sell the others on the idea of locating such a call centre at Saanich’s facility.

Whether the two mayors have ever picked up the phone and had a conversation on this matter is unknown to us. But as leaders of the region’s two largest and most influential municipalities, they need to set aside any differences, show some leadership and begin looking at this issue from a big picture perspective for the good of the region.

Otherwise, it comes off as just another case of municipal leaders playing politics in a fractured region.