A regionalized police force between the Capital Region’s municipalities is not likely to happen soon. (Black Press Media file photo)

Province will not take action in establishing a regional police force for Greater Victoria

Regionalized police department requires local push, province says

The provincial government says a regionalized Greater Victoria police force is a supportable idea but requires action on a local level.

On July 5, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth penned a letter to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. The letter was written in response to an April letter from the City of Victoria after councillors unanimously endorsed the idea to establish a regional police force.

“Integration or regionalization has the potential to benefit the delivery of policing and law enforcement in a community. This government continues to be supportive of integration and regionalization where appropriate,” Farnworth said.

“However, any change to policing and law enforcement in the Capital Region is a decision for the municipalities involved and their elected officials, subject to my overall responsibility to ensure adequate and effective policing and public safety in B.C.”

READ MORE: Appeal by Victoria to province for regional police puts pressure on Saanich

Farnworth also added he’d be open to any proposals put forward jointly by CRD municipalities.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who also sits as the co-chair of the Victoria Police Board, said a complete regionalization of all 13 municipalities would be unlikely because some areas, such as Metchosin and the Highlands, have more rural needs than other CRD municipalities. Without provincial support for a regional force, she’d rather that municipalities focus more on current and future integrated police units.

“We’re not looking at integration, but better governance of integrated units for better public safety, better oversight and making sure the money is being well spent,” Helps said. “Getting things done takes conversation, cooperation and collaboration, and nothing good comes from imposing anything on anyone.”

ALSO READ: Former Saanich councillor candidate questions proposed mandate for citizens’ assembly

Current integrated teams comprised of officers and experts from across the Capital Region include the Integrated Mobile Response Team, the Integrated Road Safety Unit, the Mobile Youth Service Team, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team, the Crowd Management Unit, the Regional Domestic Violence Unit, Crimestoppers, the Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit and the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.

Oak Bay Police board chair and Oak Bay Mayor Kevin Murdoch said the district hasn’t heard any official proposals about an integrated police force but would be open to ideas.

“While the Oak Bay Police board would look seriously at any proposal put forward, Oak Bay enjoys a high level of service and low per-capita policing costs under the current model, and I expect the community would want to ensure the quality of policing continued under any new model,” Murdoch said.

ALSO READ: Central Saanich joining Greater Victoria integrated 911 dispatch centre

“It should be noted that Oak Bay and other police forces already have a large number of regional services … and Oak Bay currently contributes both to funding and staffing these services. “

One area where integration of police forces could come together sooner than later is between the Victoria and Saanich police departments, which are part of the amalgamation discussions coming forward with the newly-established citizen’s assembly.

Black Press Media reached out to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who in the past has opposed the idea of regional policing, but he did not respond in time for publication.

Victoria city council is set to discuss the letter at a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Coast Collective ready to Raise the Roof with Langford art auction

The fundraiser is Friday, Oct 18 at the Royal Canadian Legion on Station Road

Saanich residents planning Halloween fireworks displays must plan ahead

Folks are required to attend one of three safety courses, buy a permit

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read