Victoria’s committee of the whole has tentatively approved funding for the late-night policing that was removed from the city’s budget earlier this year.
COTW voted to restore up to $220,000 for the initiative, with the expectation that this item will be moved into the main police budget next year, rather than the council budget.
Council had considered allocating a smaller amount, after staff said that VicPD only used $146,000 of the $220,000 allocated last year.
Staff said the whole fund wasn’t used because the late-night task force is a shift that is voluntary for officers, paid at double time, and it wasn’t staffed each weekend.
This still needs to be voted on in council, before it is officially added to the city’s budget, which has not yet had its final vote.
At the same time, council voted to fund a two-month pilot project of $35,200 for a foot patrol in the downtown core, and an additional $280,000 for downtown revitalization.
This brings the property tax increase to 6.3 per cent.
Coun. Stephen Hammond introduced an amendment to have the funding for these initiatives come out of the contingency budget instead, which would keep the property tax increase at six per cent, but the motion did not pass as other councillors noted the contingency budget is set aside for the city to respond to emergencies.
Council voted 8-1 in favour of allocating a total of $500,000 to these initiatives, of which $220,000 would go to the late-night task force with Hammond being the only person voting against.
Councillors Jeremy Caradonna and Susan Kim voted against the two-month pilot project with everyone else in favour.
For the remaining funds being allocated towards downtown revitalization, Hammond and Coun. Marg Gardiner voted against with everyone else in favour.
Del Manak, Victoria’s police chief, says he is pleased that council will re-instate the funding for the late night patrols.
“I’m grateful for council to have reconsider this and to have re instated the funding,” Manak said in an interview with CHEK News. “What it does, is it’s going to allow the Victoria Police department to make sure that we increase and keep our visibility in our late night downtown entertainment district, which creates that safe, vibrant downtown for everyone to come downtown and enjoy.”