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

PHOTOS: Sasquatch Days about ‘being proud of being Sts’ailes’

The joint event between Harrison and Sts’ailes returned to the village for its eighth year

‘This was my baby’: Music teacher to retire after 29 years at Kent Elementary

Brenda Di Rezze will be saying goodbye to her music room at the end of this school year

LETTER: Harrison needs trees, not a new parking lot

Harrison resident Janne Perrin reminds council that trees are important too

UPDATE: Two young Chilliwack men facing at least five years jail for armed robbery

Darius Commodore and Jaimal Mclaren face 13 charges in Mission/Agassiz incident involving police dog

Harrison pay parking begins Saturday

Drivers will be charged an hourly rate for their parking spots from June 15 to Sept. 15

VIDEO: Reading splashes into Agassiz’s Ferny Coombe Pool

The Agassiz Library held its annual Reading in the Pool event Friday, June 14

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read