Province says policing costs on city’s shoulders, mayor says chief’s efforts continue
The province says it won’t cover Victoria’s policing costs stemming from tent city.
Acting Victoria Police Chief Del Manak gave city council an update on the department’s stepped patrols around the camp on the courthouse lawn Thursday, telling councillors the department has now spent a combined $140,000 patrolling in and around the controversial camp on the courthouse lawn.
Victoria Police stepped up their presence around the controversial camp May 21st, after city council agreed to a $113,000 boost to the department’s $50-million budget.
There weeks later, the department made a decision to have two officers start working inside the camp itself from 3pm to 3am, drawing resources from within its existing funding.
In his update to city council Manak said the presence has paid dividends in safety and security.
“The trends are quite clear, the level of violence and the perception of safety for the occupants and the residents that live in the surrounding area has significantly increased,” he said.
Manak told councillors that so far, the department has used $50,000 of the extra money council provided for patrols in nearby streets, and expects to return anything left to the city after August 8th, the deadline set by a judge for the camp to close.
But Manak says the two officers within tent city have come at a higher cost, $91,000 since June 11, money the department hopes to recover from the province, which owns the land.
“I’m in discussions, I’m hopeful that we’ll come to some sort of an agreement, I don’t know that I’ll get all the 90 thousand dollars, but I’m confident the discussions are positive,” said Manak.
In a statement provided after Thursday’s meeting, the Ministry of Housing was less positive. Saying police costs are the city’s responsibility.
“The Province will not be covering policing costs related to the encampment site,” the e-mailed statement reads. “Under the Police Act, municipalities with populations of more than 5,000 are required to pay for the costs of maintaining law and order in the municipality. This includes adequately funding police to enforce municipal bylaws, the criminal law and the laws of British Columbia.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps told CHEK News Sunday today that Manak is still in talks with the province about recouping some or all of those costs, and so long as that’s the case she’s not going to comment.
Stephen Hammond speaks for a group of concerned residents called Mad As Hell. His group asked for the extra patrols, and agrees they’ve made a difference.
But he argues VicPD warned the province early about the situation developing on the courthouse lawn, and if the housing ministry doesn’t agree to pick up part of the police costs, Helps and council should take a hard line.
“If they care about the citizens of Victoria they will go after the province and if that means suing them, then so be it,” he said.
“We should not have not have to shell out the money for the horrible debaucle that the province deliberately allowed in this tent city.”