Victoria Police hope Esquimalt will say yes to more staff after council denied last year’s request.
Chief Del Manak presented the department’s 2019 provisional budget to the Township of Esquimalt council Monday, asking for $8.3 million in total, including $60,237 towards a downtown Victoria-based community response team, an Esquimalt traffic officer, a cyber-crimes coordinator and a research analyst.
The cost for Esquimalt is based on 14.7 per cent of the total cost – an agreement between the Township and the City of Victoria.
— Evan Southern (@evan_southern) January 22, 2019
According to Manak’s presentation, 2017 Community Survey respondents said they wanted VicPD to “be more visible in the community” and “spend more time talking to people.”
Manak told Black Press that community feedback has also shown Esquimalt is in need of its own designated traffic officer.
“We continue to hear concerns about traffic through the major thoroughfares, through residential side-streets, traffic safety, school zones, playground zones and enforcement of traffic laws,” he said. “By having a dedicated Esquimalt Division traffic officer, [that’s] going to increase the capacity for us to be able to respond to the needs of the Township.”
With no permanent additions since 2010 and growing populations (Between 2011 and 2016 Esquimalt grew by 8.9 per cent and Victoria by 7.2), Manak said pressures on the department have grown substantially.
“Not only do we have more people, there’s greater complexity…” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of pressure faced by the police department. It is quite reasonable, in my opinion to help bridge that gap and to make sure we have enough officers to respond to community needs.”
In spring 2018, Esquimalt did not approve VicPD’s request for $94,374 for six additional police officers.
As a result, Manak cut the department’s school liaison program, saying he needed to re-allocate officers to other postings.
VicPD then sought a provincial review to determine if the six officers were needed. The province has not yet made a judgment, but its decision could mandate the Township’s council to help cover the cost of the six additional officers – over and above the department’s newest request.
Overall, VicPD is seeking $57 million from the two municipalities – a six per cent increase from 2018. Esquimalt’s portion is a 5.7 per cent increase from the 2018 request.