Wednesday October 26, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce supports a continued show of support for adequate funding for the Victoria Police Department, as expressed in a letter October 25 as sent to Victoria City Council. The letter was collectively representing the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce along with the Downtown Victoria Business Association, Our Place Society, Victoria Conservatory of Music and Destination Greater Victoria.
Downtown businesses often find themselves in need of support by police regarding things like damage, break-ins, or vagrancy or issues on the streets that are often also associated with addiction and mental health challenges.
Financial challenges faced by municipal councils are one reason that examination of police service costs might be examined, as well as for political reasons over the role and need for the range of services that police provide.
About the proposed budget:
The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board is requesting approval of a budget of just over $59 million in 2021, which reflects an increase of 1.5% over last year’s budget.
The budget includes the addition of six more officers. Part of the mix includes plain clothes officers who for mental health calls wold be accompanied by a psychiatric nurse.
Status quo not a safe option:
“We feel we are in a state of public safety crisis and are asking Council to make an essential investment in the safety and vitality of our City, to ensure our police are adequately resourced to do the job we all need them to do,” it is stated in the letter signed by Victoria Chamber CEO Bruce Williams and Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray as well as representatives of Our Place Society (Julian Daly), Victoria Conservatory of Music (Jane Butler McGregor), and Destination Greater Victoria (Paul Nursey).
They add that public safety is “critical to all residents, families, workers, social service providers, business owners, their staff, customers and clients.”
Calling the status quo “not a safe option”, the letter writers note that the VicPD budget proposal includes the addition of civilian mental health support professionals along with additional police officers.