While a study into amalgamation of the region’s two largest municipalities will occur after this fall’s municipal election, Victoria is reiterating its call for the province to take action on regional policing.
City council on Thursday passed a motion calling on the B.C. government to “urgently” move toward regional policing, and that it not wait for the outcome of a planned citizen’s assembly.
Victoria, Saanich and the province last month put funding towards a citizen’s assembly, to meet after the October election and explore the impacts and opinions around combining the two south Island municipalities. Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen has requested that the group begin meeting within six months of the new councils taking office.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who will write an official letter of support for regional policing, said Thursday the timing of council’s advocacy is important, with an impending provincial report on possible changes to the Police Act coming at the end of April.
Communities around the Capital Region and across B.C. have emphasized the need for regional police departments during the Police Act review process, the mayor said.
Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who brought forward the motion, said regional policing is an appropriate model for the Capital Region’s core.
Police units such as the Emergency Response Team, Public Safety Unit and Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) are already staffed by officers from across the region. Victoria council unanimously endorsed the idea to establish a fully regional police force back in 2019.
Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth responded to that call by saying changes to law enforcement in the Capital Region would be for the municipalities involved and their elected officials to decide, “subject to my overall responsibility to ensure adequate and effective policing and public safety in B.C.”
At the time Farnworth added he’d be open to any proposals put forward jointly by CRD municipalities.
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