It’s over a hundred and fifty-year tradition. One that celebrates the date our country came together, from coast to coast, as one: Canada Day.
“Everybody loves a good birthday party!” said one Canada Day reveler last year to CHEK News.
But the longtime tradition here in the province’s capital is facing an uncertain future.
Victoria Police say this year’s city budget isn’t enough to cover the high cost of Canada Day policing, leaving force on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.
And while arrests on Canada Day are on a downward trend since 2016, Victoria Police says policing costs of Canada’s birthday, have remained the same.
In a letter to the city, Victoria Police say since 2011 the average price to police Victoria’s downtown core for Canada Day celebrations is $122,000. That covers overtime, supplies, logistics and B.C. Sherrif’s services.
Of that cost, Victoria Police says the city of Victoria gives $12,000. $31,600 of additional funding is given by the city of Victoria and Esquimalt, leaving $78,400 coming out Victoria Police’s pockets.
“Police have absorbed the cost of Canada Day every year,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“And I guess have been happy to do so, but with more pressure and less resources, I guess it’s been more difficult.”
And it’s not just Canada Day where police say they’re facing financial losses — it’s all city festivals.
With 340 special events per year, the city’s police force is asking city council for more funding to cover costs, or consider reducing the scope of celebrations, including Canada Day.
But Helps says changing the scope won’t change the number of people that show up to celebrate, and has a different solution in mind
“We don’t want to turn away people from our downtown, we want to welcome people to our downtown,” said Helps.
“My proposal is that we take the required funds from the contingency fund and then deal with this as part of our 2020 budget.”
CHEK News reached out to Victoria Police for comment, but no one was available. Council is set to decide on a solution for special event policing on Thursday.