North Cowichan and seven other municipalities in southern Vancouver Island have been successful in their efforts to have the province and Ottawa defer the downloading of RCMP E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch charges onto them.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said the municipality has recently received an email from the province’s executive director of finance in the policing and security branch confirming that funding for this function has now been secured from Treasury Board to cover these costs until March 31, 2025.
In December, North Cowichan, along with Colwood, Ladysmith, Langford, North Saanich, Sidney, Sooke, and View Royal, sent a joint letter to Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth raising concerns about further downloading of the E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch charges, which are approximately $3.6 million per year, from the province and Ottawa to local governments.
E-Comm 9-1-1 is a multi-municipality agency that provides emergency communications operations for British Columbia.
The eight municipalities were informed of the pending download of 100 per cent of the costs for RCMP E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch calls to their municipal budgets in 2020.
These costs had been covered by senior governments, with 30 per cent coming from Ottawa and 70 per cent from the province.
The downloading of the costs, on which the municipalities say they were never consulted, was set to take effect on April 1, which is well into the fiscal budget year for municipalities that begins Jan. 1.
In North Cowichan, the projected increase to costs of the planned three-year phase in of the cost downloads to the local governments would have amounted to an approximately two per cent tax increase over that time for the municipality’s tax payers.
In the letter to Farnworth, the municipalities said that with so many policing cost increases to local governments in recent years, including the additional costs related to the new RCMP contract, the local governments trust the minister can understand why another burden such as the one proposed by downloading the RCMP E-Comm 9-1-1 dispatch costs is untenable for them.