The framework agreement that allows Victoria Police to patrol in the township of Esquimalt has been renewed for another year, as the community awaits a consultation report for future services.
More than a year after Esquimalt council voted to terminate its agreement with VicPD and explore other policing options, the township has had to backtrack temporarily due to delays in a report.
“We knew that come the end of the year, we were hopeful to have more on the consultants report that we went out for which talks about different types of services,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
The township hired a consultation firm to analyze policing costs, find alternate police service models, and create a transition plan. That report was expected to be available by fall 2023.
“It had disappointed me ’cause I thought we’d get it by the summer,” said Desjardins.
With no new report, The Police Board, Township of Esquimalt and the City of Victoria agreed to renew its current contract for at least one year, with the option to renew two more times for one year each.
This means Esquimalt will still have to pay 13.67 per cent of VicPD’s total budget, which is estimated to be $70 million in 2024. That amounts to 23 per cent of the township’s total annual budget.
Esquimalt also sought separation from the agreement due to the difference in policing needs. Data from VicPD found that in Q3 2022, Esquimalt had a crime severity index of 42, while Victoria scored 147.
“The ultimate goal is to make sure we have good public safety, which we have with VicPD, but that we have governance and local input into policing,” said Desjardins.
“I’m please to have the framework agreement extended so excellent police services continue in the city and the township,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto.
The province of B.C. is also keeping a close eye on a possible transition.
“While I understand that this current policing arrangement has its challenges, I look forward to working with both communities on a path forward that addresses the unique needs of Victoria, Esquimalt and the surrounding area,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.
Desjardins says she hopes that a completed report will be made available by early 2024.