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Township of Esquimalt, B.C. opts not to renew policing agreement

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Esquimalt council has voted not to renew its policing contract with the Victoria Police Department. It is a potential change that would have ramifications not just in the capital region, but the entire province. Richard Zussman explains. – Aug 17, 2022

On south Vancouver Island, Esquimalt council has voted unanimously to not renew the 10-year Framework Agreement between the township, City of Victoria and the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board, for local policing services.

Rather than renew, council voted to provide notice to the Province of B.C., the police board and the City of Victoria of the township’s desire to not extend the current agreement.

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“We did not make this decision lightly,” said Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins.

“However this is not a sudden or new problem, as Esquimalt has been burdened by this model for many years. Council is looking at all options with safety, costs and fairness in mind.”

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“The fact remains that two municipalities are making decisions on one budget, regardless of their vastly different needs; (it) is challenging on both sides. This issue represents a significant amount of Esquimalt taxpayer’s money that could be used on a variety of projects of benefit to the community.”

Read more: One in custody after armed standoff in Victoria, B.C.

The next step for the township is to put forth a request for proposals to identify a consultant that will propose one or more police service models, which will include a transition plan for council to review as well as a public engagement strategy.

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The township said it anticipates that a new police service delivery model will be submitted to the province for review, prior to the expiration of the current agreement which ends on Dec. 31, 2023.

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An “extensive” public consultation campaign was conducted by Esquimalt last spring, with 74 per cent of people saying they support the council’s efforts to review new policing service options.

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Victoria Police Chief Del Manak shared his thoughts on the decision on his Twitter page.

“I am disappointed to see this decision from Esquimalt council as our officers are deeply committed to serving the residents of Esquimalt and have built a high level of trust and engagement with the community,” Manak said.

“This decision is a cost-saving measure and no reflection on the excellent police service provided by VicPD officers.”

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The requests for consultant proposals will be published on Aug. 17, according to the township.

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