Residents will have to let the Capital Regional District know by Dec. 2 if they don’t support borrowing $16 million for a new regional 911 call centre for police.
If 10 per cent of CRD electors (28,078 people) sign a petition against the borrowing by that deadline, it has to go to referendum for approval, a procedure known as an alternative approval process.
The plan is to build the new unified 911 Call Answer and Police Dispatch Centre at 4219 Commerce Circle, in Saanich.
The CRD has a conditional purchase agreement for the property for $1.35 million.
The alternative approval process was accepted by CRD directors this week. Only Victoria councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday voted against authorizing it.
“I’m just not convinced this central centre will be the most cost-effective option,” Isitt said.
“I’m open to being persuaded, but it seems like we’re rushing into borrowing [and] rushing into building a new facility when I don’t see a pressing need. I think the pressing need is for regional policing — a unified policing service for the capital region.”
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen called the proposed 911 centre “a big and important step forward for our communities’ safety,” but said he isn’t in favour of amalgamating police services.
The CRD has three Primary Safety Answering Points and police dispatch — Victoria police (serving Victoria and Esquimalt), Saanich police (serving Saanich and Oak Bay) and West Shore RCMP (serving the rest of the capital region) — where 911 calls are answered and information is gathered and transferred to the appropriate agency for dispatch.
Jensen said pulling all of the centres together is an enhancement. “One of the things we can hope for is that the fire dispatch services will also be centralized,” he said.
Amalgamating police services “has been on the agenda for the City of Victoria for some years,” Jensen said.
“It is not the way forward in my view. Integrated services have worked.”
A CRD staff report says the cost of borrowing $16 million, amortized over 15 years, is $1.3 million a year.
The proposal calls for the CRD to lease the new facility to an emergency-service provider and the annual lease proceeds will be enough to cover the annual debt payments.
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