Safety Minister tells Victoria council to spend less time talking raise, more on policing

Safety Minister tells Victoria council to spend less time talking raise, more on policing
B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

Now that his ministry has been asked, again, to resolve a budget dispute between Victoria and Esquimalt councils and their police board, B.C.’s safety minister has taken a swipe at Victoria’s spending priorities.

For the second year in a row, the police board has asked the province to overrule both councils, and authorize the hiring of more police officers.

The police board is asking for four positions, which Esquimalt said it would pay for two of, but Victoria has said no to all of them.

Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province is looking at the request and will respond.

On Tuesday, he also offered some advice to the Victoria council.

“Perhaps if less time was spent talking or dealing with a fifty per cent pay increase and more time was spent dealing on some of these issues around policing, they might find a way they wouldn’t have to be coming to my ministry to resolve these disputes all the time,” Farnworth said.

Farnworth says the Director of Police Services is reviewing the request and will bring forward recommendations that will help the minister make a decision.

Farnworth’s comment is in reference to a motion last week by Victoria councillor Ben Isitt for a council pay raise of around 50 per cent, taking their pay to more than $70,000 a year.

And this isn’t the first shot Farnworth has taken in a police budget battle.

In February, the province stepped in after Esquimalt refused to pay for more officers.

“You could say sometimes when the kids can’t play in the sandbox, dad has to come in and say this is how it’s going to be,” Farnworth said.

Councillor Geoff Young says policing is going to need lots of discussions, and to some degree, because Victoria is working with the province on social services for downtown, including housing, that requires more officers to be available.

“It’s not just on us that police budget, it’s because we’ve been trying to work with the province and I think they frankly could do a little bit more,” Young said Tuesday.

“So I’m not going to all the way with the minister in saying we could easily solve that problem if we spend less time talking about our pay. But we should spend less time talking about our pay.”

The positions Victoria Police and the police board are asking the province to authorize are for a civilian research analyst, a cyber-crimes investigator and two officers that would be part of a pilot project to help people with mental health problems.


Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!