Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in the southern Vancouver Island being asked by the province to start paying the bills for E-Comm’s police dispatch service by 2022. (E-Comm 911)

Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in the southern Vancouver Island being asked by the province to start paying the bills for E-Comm’s police dispatch service by 2022. (E-Comm 911)

Province wants Sooke to cover police 911 costs by 2022

Sooke is one of eight RCMP-serviced municipalities in southern Island rollout plan

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was shocked to find out that E-Comm, the southern Island’s centre for 911-dispatch calls, would begin sending invoices to her municipality instead of the province starting in 2022.

The additional cost comes after the province sent a letter in mid-December, explaining that Sooke and seven other RCMP-serviced municipalities within southern Vancouver Island are expected to cover the costs to fund all police call-taking and dispatch services.

The province hasn’t clarified any total costs to Tait but has provided a two-year transition plan.

In 2022, the province will contribute 70 per cent of the total cost, while municipalities will be responsible for the remaining 30 per cent. In 2023, the province’s share drops to 35 per cent and the municipality to 65 per cent.

By 2024, the municipality is expected to cover 100 per cent of E-Comm’s dispatch services.

READ MORE: Late food, CERB and soiled mattresses: E-Comm releases worst 911 calls of 2020

“I was floored when I found out that this is what they intended to do,” said Tait, past president of the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

“When are they going to provide transparency on the financial impact? The percentages don’t mean anything. If it’s $20,000, I can deal with that, but if it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars, then what? I’m just really concerned.”

In the letter, the province pointed out that telecommunication is a municipal responsibility under section 3.6 of the Municipal Police Unit Agreements, without any cost to the province or Canada. They add that Lower Mainland RCMP-policed municipalities have similar contracts with E-Comm as well.

“I really think that this is a stretch,” said Sooke’s chief administrative officer Norm McInnis during Monday’s council meeting. “That section has always been about administrative help. It has never been about dispatch […] This could be a significant cost to the District of Sooke.”

Sooke isn’t the only municipality expected to carry the load.

ALSO READ: 74 % of 911 calls are from cellphones, so know your location: E-Comm

Colwood, View Royal, Langford, North Saanich, Ladysmith and North Cowichan are expected to pick up the cost in 2022.

“I’m incredibly frustrated,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin. “This is not something that we’re supportive of at all because it not only came as a surprise, but we weren’t included in any consultations. To this day, we don’t know the ramifications from a financial standpoint.”

Martin added that a large unexpected bill could throw a wrench in their plans, as they’re currently forming Colwood’s five-year financial plan. He said $20,000 could be reasonable, but if it’s $200,000, then the story changes.

For Tait, that could mean holding off on hiring an additional police officer in a region that is already understaffed. Sooke needs 22 officers to have 24-hour coverage, while they currently only have 17 police officers on the force.

Sooke council voted to write a letter in response to the province, asking for further details about the potential cost. Meanwhile, Martin said he wouldn’t present it at council until he gets some solid numbers on his desk.

RELATED: Sooke needs more officers to accommodate 24-hour coverage


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

Emergency callsSooke council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Civil works crews have begun to install roads and other infrastructure to service the Nigel Valley redevelopment project that will bring nearly 800 new housing units to Saanich over the next several years. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Prep work begins on massive Nigel Valley development in Saanich

Construction of first two developments expected to begin fall 2021, B.C. Housing says

Camosun Cares hampers will be delivered weekly to students for a period of nine weeks. (Photo courtesy of Camosun College)
Weekly care hampers offered to Camosun College students in need

The Camosun Cares hamper delivers fresh produce, prepared meals, hygiene products and even recipes

Victoria police are looking for 45-year-old Charlene Woods. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Missing woman last seen in Victoria on New Year’s Day

Police working to locate Charlene Woods, 45

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Maureen Garry is the Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Educator of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Former teacher at David Cameron Elementary a tireless advocate for musical education

Maureen Garry is West Shore’s 2021 Educator of the Year

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 vaccination set to start for B.C. seniors aged 80-plus

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Police have identified the vehicle involved in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run in Chemainus and are continuing to investigate. (Black Press Media files)
Police seize and identify suspect vehicle in hit-and-run

Investigation into death expected to be lengthy and involved

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

This poster, spreading misinformation regarding COVID-19 restrictions, has been popping up in communities across Vancouver Island.
UPDATED: Poster popping up in Island communities falsely claiming COVID restrictions are over

Unattributed poster claims COVID restrictions ended March 1; Island Health responds

(Pxhere)
Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read