Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie addresses the media regarding a new regional 911 dispatch and call centre to be built in Saanich.

Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie addresses the media regarding a new regional 911 dispatch and call centre to be built in Saanich.

Regional police agencies confirm Saanich location for call centre

Region's new $13.5 million purpose-built, 9-1-1 call-answer and police dispatch service centre going in at 4219 Commerce Circle.

Representatives from five local police agencies were on hand Monday to confirm that Saanich will indeed host the region’s new $13.5 million purpose-built, 9-1-1 call-answer and police dispatch service centre at 4219 Commerce Circle.

In October the Capital Regional District board approved borrowing up to $16 million for the facility, which includes purchasing the 38,000 square-foot property that Colliers International says is the last undeveloped site in the industrial zoned Commerce Circle.

The new centre will bring Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, Oak Bay and all local RCMP detachments under one roof. 

“In the mid 2000s we went from six dispatch centres down to three,” said Saanich Police Chief Bob Downie. “At that time we knew that further consolidation would benefit the region but none of us had the capacity, resources or infrastructure to take that next step.”

The building will be owned by CRD and is projected to be running by early 2019. The project was led by the South Island Police Dispatch Steering Committee, composed of police chiefs from the aforementioned departments, with representatives from the RCMP, province, CRD and E-Comm.

Construction should break sometime this year, said Barbara Desjardins, CRD board chair.

“We are confident that this project will improve service to the public, increase officer safety and provide efficiencies for local governments, police and the RCMP.”

Downie spoke on behalf of the steering committee, crediting the experience of E-Comm. The latter operates on a cost-recovery basis, and charges based on agency call volume, plus overhead fees, said Saanich acting Sgt. Jeremy Leslie.

Existing dispatchers and call-takers from the region’s current call centres, whether they are regulars or part time, will be offered new positions in the centre.

The facility will be a state-of-the-art, post-disaster building designed to withstand greater seismic, wind and snow loads, Desjardins said.

“As a 24-7 operation, the building will be equipped with many levels of redundancies for power and mechanical systems,” Desjardins said.

“If we have significant 911 calls coming in at the same time from multiple incidents, we’ll collectively have a greater capacity to answer those calls now so there will be less of a delay then we would experience otherwise,” Downie added.