Esquimalt council declines request from Victoria Police Department for additional funding

Esquimalt council declines request from Victoria Police Department for additional funding

Township of Esquimalt council has voted down supplemental budget requests from the Victoria Police Department, citing that the township is in the midst of the budget process and is evaluating departmental requests for additional funds.

Council says it has declined requests for additional funding to support specific sworn officer and civilian roles with the exception of funding for restorative justice.

Victoria Police says that it had requested an increase in funding for a total of 10 additional positions (six officer positions and four civilian employees) and while Victoria Council approved the request, the department needs support from both parties.

According to a review of the budget allocation formula for policing in Esquimalt and Victoria carried out by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in 2020, the portion of VicPD’s budget Esquimalt was responsible for—14.7 per cent—did not align with the demand for policing services in Esquimalt.

In the 2020 review, it cited Esquimalt’s declining calls for service and low crime rate as part of the data considered — part of council’s reason for voting down additional funding requests.

“In essence, the report stated that the municipality was paying a disproportionately high amount relative to the actual demand for services,” reads a statement from the Township of Esquimalt. “It’s important to note that per legislation, the township does not make operational decisions about how the budget is used within the department.”

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According to Esquimalt, the township paid $8.4M for policing in 2021 or approximately $479 per capita. As a result of recommendations in the Ministry’s report, the township’s budget allocation was reduced from 14.7 to 13.67 per cent this year.

“We made further budget decisions this year—including the supplemental requests—that we believe are more in line with our use of resources from VicPD”, said Mayor Barbara Desjardins. “For instance, we know that overtime and other costs are increasing due to the number of protests we’re seeing downtown. While police presence is important for these types of events, Esquimalt should not be the only municipality in the region contributing to these costs simply because VicPD provides policing in our township.”

Desjardins adds that the council’s decision aligns with the township’s goal of being adequately policed while fiscally responsible to residents.

Victoria’s Police Chief, Del Manak, says that the requested funding for 10 additional positions was not considered supplemental, but rather an essential component of the overall core budget request for VicPD.

“From an operational perspective, I am disappointed that VicPD’s budget was not approved in its entirety,” Manak said in a statement. “Our police board, over an exhaustive budget process spanning several months, arrived at this budget based on the best available information relating to resource demands, operational requirements, and public safety trends.”

Manak adds that personnel shortages and demands of current officers have continued to mount, suggesting that “this pressure is affecting our ability to provide the community policing that our citizens expect.”

This decision comes as the current Police Framework Agreement, which governs the Victoria and Esquimalt amalgamated service delivery, nears its expiry and the township is approaching the renewal deadline this July.

Graham CoxGraham Cox
April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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