View Royal mayor says Saanich had a take-it-or-leave-it approach to fire dispatch

Re: Communities pull the plug on Saanich fire dispatch.

Mayor Richard Atwell says “Saanich stands to lose money.” That statement seems inconsistent with their justification for a cost increase. Saanich’s cost increase was based on the claim of having subsidized the five communities for years. The proposed cost increase was made on behalf of financial stewardship and the elimination of the subsidy. One would expect that eliminating the subsidy would improve the Saanich financial outlook.

Why is dispatch in Saanich so expensive? I would expect that Saanich wants to provide the best possible service at the best price. Those five communities have found a solution. Perhaps Saanich needs to do a service review to more clearly understand if residents can afford the Saanich dispatch model as it is currently configured.

We live in an age where the Fort St John fire department is dispatched from Campbell River, Kootenay municipalities are dispatched from Kelowna. The technologies available today make long distance dispatch possible. It easily facilitates dispatch across borders. The success of Mutual Aid Agreements has more to do with the actual administration of the emergency service departments than the origin of dispatch services.

When the region establishes a single regional dispatch center on Vancouver Island, we expect the service established will still be the best possible service for our region at the best price. Hopefully Saanich will be a participant and partner with other local governments in that regional model.

We thank Saanich for the last five years of dispatch services. It is unfortunate that instead of meaningful discussions with its client municipalities on extending those contracts Saanich chose to adopt a “take it or leave it” philosophy.

David Screech

Mayor Of View Royal

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