Canada Day is the largest event the City of Victoria sees (File Contributed/Ken Kelly, DVBA)

Canada Day celebrations could be downsized in Victoria due to policing costs

Victoria Police Department requests cash to cover Canada Day celebrations, other big events

The Victoria Police Department says it doesn’t have the means in its budget to fully cover upcoming public events, including Canada Day, Pride and the Symphony Splash.

In a letter to the committee of the whole, the VicPD Finance Committee Chair Sean Powell said that since 2011, the average cost for policing the downtown core on Canada Day alone is approximately $122,000.

“Within the parameters and allocation of the 2019 budget, we no longer have the capacity to absorb unfunded expenditures,” Powell wrote.

Canada Day costs include police and civilian overtime, supplies, logistics and BC Sheriff services. Annually, $12,000 is supplied by the city, $31,600 is funded through the police core budget and $78,400 is then absorbed as an “unfunded non-recoverable expenditure.”

However Chief Const. Del Manak said that new expenses to the police budget, including the Employer’s Health Tax and the hiring of six new officers, paired with cuts from the city has put the department in a tough position.

READ MORE: Six new police officers add $300,000 to Victoria’s 2019 budget

“In years past the Victoria Police Department was asked to find the money from other line items,” Manak said. “This year with all the number of cuts we’ve had and our budget being scrutinized to the level that it has… we no longer have that wiggle room to go to other areas of our budget.”

Manak added that Canada Day is the largest festival that the city hosts, causing a rise of people in the area throughout the day as well as into the nightlife.

“It’s the hardest one to manage as police,” Manak said. “We want to make sure the community is safe.”

In response to the request, Coun. Ben Isitt, who has been vocal in the police budget, questioned why the request came so close to the event, and where the already-approved budget has gone.

“They have $60 million paid for by taxpayers from Victoria and Esquimalt,” Isitt said. “Have they already spent that money?”

ALSO READ: Victoria Police budget decisions delayed

Isitt continued to say he’d be more open to restricting the area that Canada Day takes place in.

“I wonder if we have half of the downtown closed for that event if we couldn’t just limit the number of streets that are closed,” Isitt said. “This would be something to consider rather than throw more money at the event.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, who also sits on the Victoria-Esquimalt Police Board, said this wasn’t an idea that would work.

“It’s not a realistic option. People come downtown for Canada Day… it’s not reasonable to tell people that they should stay home,” Helps said. “We’ve worked really hard here to become a city of festivals, to become a destination. I want 50,000 people to come into our downtown easily.”

ALSO READ: Local powers say a regionalized police force needed for Greater Victoria

Helps said that the city has over $1 million in its contingency fund for unexpected costs, and that the requested funds could easily be covered.

“I think the police request is reasonable, they wouldn’t ask for more officers if it wasn’t necessary,” she said.

The issue will come up for discussion at the upcoming committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, June 6.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

Snowmobile club gets funding for approaching season

Money will go toward summer trail maintenance and website upgrades

Another week of adventure

Forty-two youth from Clearwater, along with youth visiting from out of town, enjoy week of events

Affordable housing project sees completion

“We’re pleased we’re going to be starting off with pretty much full occupancy.”

Back in Time

Historical Perspective

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Speculation tax forces sale of Greater Victoria’s iconic ‘Tulip House’

Bob and Jan Fleming selling their retirement home famous for its thousands of tulips

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Conan turns to the Property Brothers for tips on buying Greenland

Jonathan Scott suggests removing glaciers and mountains to bring in ‘more natural light’

Forests minister visits B.C. town rocked by multiple mill shutdowns

A third of Mackenzie turns out for rally, not much to cheer about

Most Read