Saanich councillor wants to merge Greater Victoria’s fire departments, going from 13 to 4


In Greater Victoria, there are 13 fire departments each with their own fire hall and fire chief.

When there’s a fire in one municipality, others will help if requested, but Saanich councillor-elect Colin Plant thinks it’s time to merge, or amalgamate, the fire departments of the four core municipalities.

“What I’m proposing that Saanich consider putting into its strategic plan, looking at a four-core fire department. Which would see Saanich, Oak Bay, Victoria, and Esquimalt consider becoming one fire department,” Plant told CHEK News Wednesday.

The four municipalities are the only ones in the region with full-time firefighters and Plant says it could wind up as a cost savings.

“I think that is to be determined. Certainly at the end of the day you would not see four fire chiefs. And so it’s likely to have one fire chief, and three deputy chiefs. So there would be saving of staff there,” he said.

Saanich’s fire chief supports creating a more efficient fire service model.

In a statement, Chief Mike Burgess wrote: “There is a lack of efficiency and co-operation in the way our current system is structured and many cross-border complexities that creates.”

Burgess also said it’s up to the politicians to decide whether or not to merge departments.

Victoria councillor-elect Matt Dell thinks it an idea whose time has come.

“I’m about 1.4 kilometres from the Oak Bay fire hall. And I’m about 2.1 from the new fire hall. And I think a lot of people would be similarly closer to other municipalities,” said Dell.

He lives in Victoria’s Jubilee neighbourhood, a stone’s throw from Oak Bay, but he also thinks Plant is also on the right track.

“I think basic common sense would be, hey, why not those guys come over here if there was a fire, or Victoria was busy. And it just speaks to the compact nature of our municipality,” said Dell.

Plant is planning to ask the new Saanich council to consider the idea, and move toward the next step.

READ MORE: Victoria, Saanich moving forward with citizens’ assembly to investigate potential amalgamation between communities

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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