In 2017 specialized police teams diffused four potential bomb findings in Greater Victoria.
Three teams were involved in the incidents. The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) is a team of critical incident commanders, crisis negotiators and tactical officers from across the Capital Region. Team members are on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week. In addition to this, there is the Victoria Police Department’s Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) and the RCMP’s Bomb Disposal Unit.
The first incident happened on May 3, in the 500 block of Yates Street.
“It was made to look like an explosive device,” said Victoria Police Department spokesperson Const. Matt Rutherford. “ The RCMP Bomb Disposal Unit was utilized, along with our EDU folks.”
The incident took nine hours to resolve.
Three weeks later, on May 29, a suspicious package was found in the 3800 block of Epsom Drive in Saanich.
“There was a suspicious package located while excavating near rock and the explosives unit was called out to deal with it,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie, public affairs officer for the Saanich Police Department.
On July 8, a similar package was also found near rock excavations in the 4700 Block of Rosehill Road.
Lastly, on June 14 suspicious liquid was found at the Hartland landfill.
“There was a dangerous liquid that was discovered that had been dropped off at the location,” Leslie said. ” The explosives unit had to attend and render the liquid safe.”
While the calls all proved to be false, Leslie emphasized that experts don’t know if they’re real or not going in.
“They were calls that dealt with explosive,” he said. “They were real calls for service that required the expertise of the specially trained GVERT members.”
Neither Rutherford nor Leslie could confirm if the numbers had jumped since other years.
In 2018 there were two publicly-reported incidents that used the GVERT.
On Aug. 29 a new armoured rescue vehicle (for which VicPD paid half of the $230,000 value) was used at Pearkes Arena when an alleged gunman called 911 from the lobby. Crisis negotiators were able to deescalate the situation.
In November 2018 the team was called in for a bomb threat at the Victoria Courthouse, which proved to be false.