Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says the city is no longer interested in hosting a downtown casino. Photo courtesy victoria.ca.

Photo courtesy victoria.ca.

Victoria City Council voted to send VicPD back to the budget drawing board on Thursday.

It approved a motion to reaffirm its position to limit a 2019 budget increase for the police force to 3.4 per cent (inflation + 1 percent).

The motion was approved by councillors Isitt, Loveday, Potts, Collins and Dubow.

“To be clear, no one is talking about cutting the police budget, this motion proposes a very generous increase,” said Ben Isitt.

“Its the largest increase being proposed for any city department.”

The motion was opposed by Mayor Helps and councillors Thornton-Joe and Young.

“We’re becoming a more vibrant and populous downtown,” said Lisa Helps.

“I think that in order to ensure that can continue, that it remains a safe for everyone, I don’t support cutting the police budget this year.”

The proposed limit to VicPD’s budget would actually leave the force with less to spend than in 2018.

The force already faces increase spending commitments including the new employer health tax, so city staff estimates VicPD would have to cut existing costs by $858,000 to meet council’s budget demands.

Chief Constable Del Manak has said VicPD has not had a single permanent police officer position added since 2010 and desperately needs more funding.

“You’re putting me as the Chief in a very difficult position,” Manak told council on Thursday.

“I will be unable to keep our city safe.”

A final budget is expected to be adopted in early May.

Ben O'Hara