The demand by the Victoria Police Department to have policing costs for Canada Day events paid by the city went to council on Thursday.

Victoria city councillors were not happy with the timing of the request, which came less than a month before July 1. They expressed their frustration with the request and the fallout from that request.  Victoria police said this year’s city budget is not enough to cover the costs, and it leaves the force on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars.

In 2009, rioting led to multiple arrests, and businesses suffered thousands in damages. After that, the city beefed up its police presence during the event. But this year, the Victoria Police Board sent a letter to councillors that the department needs more money to cover the costs.

That translates into tens of thousands of dollars to cover policing. Councillors debated the issue of whether or not to approve the request during the council meeting on Thursday afternoon. Their frustration in the timing was evident, including from Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday.

“I have a level of frustration because the urgency of this isn’t on us. This came to us today. Less than a month before the event. That is not our fault,” Loveday said.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe is the organizer for the Canada Day celebration.  She told council her concern is the perception that the celebration may be cancelled. 

“It’s already at the 11th hour. I have to admit, people are calling me, sponsors are calling me, media is calling me, and saying is this event happening?” Thornton-Joe said.

In the end, council voted to approve up to $135,000 to cover additional policing costs for events in 2019.

Mary Griffin