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Esquimalt sets town hall to consider police agreement

The relationship between Esquimalt, Victoria and the police department they share has been contentious ever since the province forced the merger of the two municipalities’ departments in 2002.
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The most recent rift between Victoria and Esquimalt has led the Victoria Esquimalt Police Board to request the province step in and determine how to resolve a $1-million dispute over the cost of 10 new Victoria police jobs. ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

With the Police Framework Agreement, which governs policing in Victoria and Esquimalt, up for renewal this year, the Township of Esquimalt is casting around for opinions and thoughts on the future of policing in the municipality.

Esquimalt council has decided to canvass the community for its thoughts before making a decision. It’s using an online survey, and an open house has been set for May 4,

Esquimalt has been clear it is unhappy with the policing arrangement, and Mayor Barb Desjardins has said the community will help determine if the agreement will be renewed.

The relationship between Esquimalt, Victoria and the police department they share has been contentious ever since the province forced the merger of the two municipalities’ departments in 2002. That was expected to be the first step toward the creation of a regional police force, but that plan stalled in the face of opposition from many municipalities.

Esquimalt tried to break away from the forced marriage a decade ago but was rebuffed by the province.

The most recent rift between Victoria and Esquimalt has led the Victoria Esquimalt Police Board to request the province step in and determine how to resolve a $1-million dispute over the cost of 10 new Victoria police jobs.

Last month, Esquimalt council rejected a request from Victoria police that it fund its share of the cost of the jobs.

While Esquimalt approved the core police budget, it did not approve funding for 10 new personnel — four civilian positions and two officers for the Assertive Community Treatment team, two officers who would be part of a co-responder team with Island Health, a cultural liaison officer to build bridges with the Indigenous, Black and people of colour communities, and a ­sergeant to work on cybercrime.

Victoria council approved both the core budget and its share of the $1-million funding request for the new ­positions.

Esquimalt covers about 14 per cent of the total police budget, with Victoria picking up the tab for the rest.

This year, the Victoria Police Department requested a budget of $63.4 million, up from the 2021 budget of $59.2 million.

The open house is set for May 4 between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Esquimalt Town Square Gallery, 505 Park Pl.

The online survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/ESQUIMALT.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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