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  

Canada DayCity of VictoriaVicPD

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

United Nations designates Surrey a ‘Tree City’

Surrey is one of 59 cities in the world to receive the designation

Surrey RCMP looking for missing boy, age 14

Brayden Ritchat, 14, last seen in the 10800-block of 141st Street in Whalley on Feb. 21

Lyn Lay calls it a day after 23 years of work at Surrey Arts Centre

‘I’ll still be working in the non-profit sector with the Youth Arts Council,’ she says

Surrey RCMP looking to identify Fleetwood robbery suspect

Alleged incident happened in the 15900-block of Fraser Highway, police say

PHOTOS: Sold-out Surrey party raises $1.35M in ‘Celebration of Care’ at hospital

Hollywood-style event attracted close to 700 people to Aria Convention Centre

VIDEO: Feds warned agricultural sector near ‘tipping point’ due to blockades

Canadian Federation of Agriculture points to lack of propane and feed due to Coastal GasLink dispute

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

B.C. Liberals call for assistance on soaring strata insurance rates

NDP’s Carole James says problem is across the country

Most Read