Decision imminent on Esquimalt’s policing fate: Minister Bond

Frustrations have mounted in year-long wait for decision

Esquimalt will soon learn whether it will be allowed to contract RCMP services, or told to stay with the Victoria Police Department.

“We are in the final stages of discussions with Victoria and Esquimalt,” Minister of Justice Shirley Bond told the News. “I can assure you this process will be completed soon, and we will be in a position to release the mediator’s report and announce a policing plan shortly.”

She did not say when her decision would be made public.

Esquimalt’s policing and law enforcement advisory panel hoped to hear back late last year, after it submitted its RCMP recommendation to Bond’s office in June 2011.

Instead, the province called for a third-party mediator to review the funding, governance and dispute-resolution issues plaguing the Victoria Police Board. That report was submitted in late January and presented to board members in recent months.

“(That report has) been confused as a solution (for the) long term,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, chair of the township’s police panel.

The panel is advocating for more control of its policing costs and to be consulted on the style of policing delivered in the community.

“When you have an amalgamated force where you have (several) times the amount of population in one community versus the other, you cannot have an equitable say in how and where and when (policing is delivered).”

Residents are more than ready for any decision.

(They’re) at a point where, ‘let’s just make a decision and move on,'” said Nick Kovacs, co-chair of the Esquimalt Residents Association. “(Residents) feel like the position has been debated to death.”

Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, who chairs the Victoria Police Board, declined to comment.

emccracken@vicnews.com