Council’s committee-of-the-whole Monday signalled Saanich’s interest in learning more about amalgamation. Councillors also asked Mayor Richard Atwell to invite other mayors for a meeting into regional policing. Black Press File.

Saanich looks into creating a regional police force

Mayor says Saanich needs to talk about regional policing, but questions remain

Saanich has initiated a series of steps to learn more about amalgamation and the creation of a regional police force.

Council, meeting as committee-of-the-whole, passed a motion that calls on the province to establish and fund a citizens’ assembly on amalgamation with interested municipalities in the Capital Regional District.

“If council supports this motion, it is saying, Saanich is interested in getting into the discussion [around amalgamation], Saanich is interested in getting information to make future decisions about it,” said Coun. Susan Brice.

A citizens’ assembly is a deliberative forum, which the provincial government defines as an “independent assembly of randomly selected individuals with a mandate to examine an issue over an extended period of time and make a recommendation to the Legislative Assembly.”

Perhaps the most famous citizens’ assembly of recent memory was the B.C. Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, which recommended the Single-Transferable Vote (STV).

Smaller jurisdictions have also used this “well-based mechanism for tapping into community interest” as Brice called it, including Duncan and North Cowichan, whose residents will be voting on amalgamation in the spring of 2018.

Coun. Karen Harper pointed to this precedent in offering her support for an assembly, which the province should fund. “This is an excellent first step, and I do…by voting in favour of this we are indicating that Saanich is indeed an interested party.”

Saanich also signaled support for the creation of a regional police force by asking Mayor Richard Atwell to invite mayors for a meeting. While all municipalities will receive the invitation, only Victoria, Oak Bay and Central Saanich maintain their own municipal forces alongside Saanich.

Other CRD members contract police forces through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Coun. Colin Plant said he remains concerned about the possibility that a regional police force could concentrate resources in Downtown Victoria. “But I think we need, and we owe it t0 our residents and the residents of the region to at least have the discussion.”

Atwell said Saanich needs to talk about regional policing, but questions remain. Who would hold it accountable, he asked. “Would it report to the CRD? Would it report to us? What would we be losing? What would we retaining control of?”

But if Atwell generally supported the idea, Coun. Leif Wergeland said Saanich should not discuss the possibility before having done its own homework first.

Council’s committee-of-the-whole made these decision after reviewing the findings of a committee that had reviewed the findings of a report from the Governance Review Citizen Advisory Committee (GRCAC).

Saanich launched GRCAC after almost out of nine out of 10 Saanich voters supported a “community-based review of the governance structure and policies within Saanich and its partnerships within the Region” during the 2014 municipal against the background of amalgamation, the proposed merger of communities in Greater Victoria to cut governance costs.

Monday’s meeting thus marked a milestone, but council met before a largely empty gallery. But the meeting nonetheless had an aura of anticipation, as the recommendation from the review committee had become public Thursday. They sparked controversy among GRCAC members and others, who had participated in the $100,000 process.

Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge-Tillicum Community Association, said the review committee lacked leadership.

James Anderson was even more critical. “As I read the memo to [council] of Dec. 12, it is clear that [the] majority of shortcomings identified and remedies suggested in the report have been ignored, despite the clarifications, you have offered,” he said.

Several hours later Anderson had changed his mind. “Hold the presses. Nice to see that the council has taken control and was willing to step up and respect the work of the task force.”

 

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Uptown lights up the holiday season

Annual event drew crowd of all ages for parade and Christmas tree lighting

New figures show City of Victoria spent $30,000 to remove Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Man arrested in Colwood sentenced for trafficking fentanyl

The man was arrested in February and has been sentenced to three years imprisonment

West Shore youth looking to give back this Christmas

Chase Doucette will hand out bags of warm apparel to the homeless

Local leaders of all ages honoured at National Philanthropy Day event

Awards in six categories given to Victoria residents who are leaders in giving back

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Controversy erupts over Japanese flag in B.C. classroom (updated)

Online petition demanding removal has collected more than 5,700 signatures

Death toll rises to 76 in California fire with winds ahead

Nearly 1,300 people remain unaccounted for more than a week after the fire began

Most Read