LETTERS: Blue Bridge fiasco (June 18); Merger of police forces urged (May 24); Chief favoured regional fire service (May 19)
LETTERS are always welcome, send them along, limit 250 words.
Blue Bridge fiasco
Round and round we go trying to establish who is to blame for this financial disaster? Not to mention there is no way of knowing whether this experimental design will in fact work in all weather conditions.
The fundamental difficulty we have is that no one on Council has any experience in construction processes of any kind and consequently have no idea as to what questions to ask. The point is if you are operating outside of your competency level don’t make decisions that will have dire consequences for the taxpayers.
Perhaps what should have been done is for the members of Council of the time to admit that this Bridge project was way beyond their level of competency and struck a special committee of non conflicted people with construction experience to at least advise as to what questions needed to be asked. In 2012 I did send an email to the then mayor and council with a series of questions regarding the bridge and was assured by the mayor and the Engineer that all matters had been covered and a sufficient contingency allowance was in place and that the project would be on time and on budget.
One can only hope that the next projects will be adequately vetted.
Merger of municipal police forces urged
We can’t emphasize enough the cost saving importance of Esquimalt and Victoria looking first to a regional model over the current relatively small and single jurisdiction policing model which most observers would agree is financially unsustainable in the long term.
That was the conclusion of a report studying the efficiency and effectiveness of the Victoria Police Department done by the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of the Fraser Valley done a couple of years ago.
Since then taming police budgets in many municipalities, including Victoria, has continued to be very challenging. We urge that the municipal police forces in Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay and Central Saanich merge without delay.
While it’s true crime rates have decreased significantly, there’s increased calls for service, prosecutors wanting more evidence, court delays, expensive investigations and technology.
Police personnel are paid well – so they should be – at an average salary nationally of $76,000, according to the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics. Significant overtime costs can add to the wage demand. Benefits such as pension, life and health insurance, can add as a percentage of wages another 24 per cent.
So, with police personnel costs driving up to 85 per cent of a police budget and municipalities asking police to do even more with less, there’s only one viable solution.
In order to continue to benefit from high quality law enforcement and find meaningful relief from relentless budget pressures, researchers at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice put it bluntly, “regionalization of police services is a no-brainer.”
Chief favoured regional services
We join the community in remembering former Victoria fire chief Doug Angrove, who during his 32-year career was also the head of the Greater Victoria Fire Chiefs’ Association. He was in effect, the fireman’s fireman.
On his retirement in 2011, Angrove spoke frankly and passionately to the media, saying that political interests should not be put ahead of public safety. He wondered why there were 13 fire departments along with three dispatch services, and not a comprehensive regional service.
Angrove told the media that nothing will change if the decision is left to municipal leaders, adding that the public must demand it. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to his legacy would be the community having a serious conversation about a regional fire service.