Esquimalt once again mulls splitting with Victoria Police to cut costs

The Victoria Police Department Esquimalt Division building is shown.

When you ask those living in Esquimalt about having their own municipal police force, many say it’s all about the bottom line.

“Well, it all depends on the budget, right?” said Brenda Best who lives in the township.

Next week  Esquimalt council will be looking at a report summarizing several new, and old, options for policing in the township. Councillors say they’re trying to strike the balance of serving the community and safety with an option that’s also cost effective.

“We know we have one of the most expensive per capita policing arrangements in Canada,” said Esquimalt councillor Dustin Cavens on Thursday.

“This goes back to 2002 when we merged with Victoria Police, and really that was presented to us and was viewed as the first steps towards regional policing and an amalgamation of the policing forces, and that’s never really happened,” he said.

“This council has been clear our first choice would be a regional policing model but we’ve been waiting 22 years now,” said Cavens. There doesn’t seem to be any movement, and this is a way to try and figure out a way forward.”

READ PREVIOUS: Victoria Police will stay in Esquimalt for at least one more year as options are explored

On the table, are a couple of options.

The first option allows Esquimalt to stay with what they have, an amalgamated force that costs Esquimalt between $9.3 to $9.9-million a year for the service of 25 police officers. The next option is renegotiating for a better agreement.

Another choice is bringing in the RCMP, which is expected to cost a cool $20-million. Then there’s contracting out the City of Victoria or District of Saanich.

The final option is creating a municipal police force of its own. It’s less expensive than the current agreement year over year, but comes with a substantial one-time start-up cost.

  • Current amalgamated force
    • $9.3M-$9.9M/year
  • Current amalgamated force, but money-per-year to be renegotiated
  • RCMP
    • $20M for new policing facility and operation
  • Policing contract with City of Victoria or District of Saanich
  • Creating its own municipal police force: Esquimalt Police Department (EPD)
    • $8.5M/year
    • $1.5M start up costs
    • $200,000 upgrades

“There’s really only two that I would be considering,” said Cavens.

As discussions ramp up, Cavens says he’ll only seriously considering  either renegotiating Esquimalt’s agreement with VicPD, or creating the township’s own police force.

“This is a huge decision from a small municipality, so we want to make we get it right,” said Cavens.

Next Tuesday, Feb. 27, will be the first of many discussions where both council and the public can have their say before recommendations are sent back to staff.

A VicPD Esquimalt vehicle is shown. (CHEK News)

Kori Sidaway

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