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

Victoria author nominated for prestigious Scotiabank Giller Prize

Steven Price’s book, Lampedusa, is a historical fiction novel about an an Italian author

Do surveys and referendums work for our democracy?

Direct democracy in the form of surveys and referendum is at odds with western liberal democracy

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Oak Bay father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. Ferries wants input on what a new Horseshoe Bay terminal might look like

Ferry corporation accepting feedback on terminal re-development design concepts until Oct. 13

Two years for cop car crusher

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

New short-film festival spotlights the weird and wonderfully macabre

Foggy Isle Film Festival happens Sept. 26 at the Victoria Event Centre

Islander honoured for 56 volunteer international aid missions

Former Parksville principal Bill Rawlins receives Sovereign’s Medal from Governor General

UPDATED: Hundreds gather to reflect and remember UVic students killed in bus crash

Campus community invited to reflect, support one another

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Developers withdraw rezoning application for huge Parksville waterfront plan

IAG to create new draft after processing public feedback

Shipping container housing for homeless coming to Courtenay

Project is partnership of Comox Rotary and Dawn to Dawn and will help address housing needs

Judge quashes Victoria man’s appeal of 90 day weekend sentence for trafficking meth

Godofredo Narboneta Ruiz was the owner, driver of vehicle used to transport the drugs

Most Read