Nanaimo mayor seeks assurances on 911 contract

NANAIMO – Central Island 911 Partnership has yet to sign new memorandum of understanding with the RCMP to provide 911 service.

Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay wants assurances the Central Island 911 Partnership is all-in as a new 911 contract with the RCMP inches toward completion.

Nanaimo city council opted last February to sign a five-year memorandum of understanding with the RCMP to provide 911 services. The agreement would cost the Central Island 911 Partnership, made up of Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley Regional District and the Regional District of Nanaimo, $745,000 with City of Nanaimo footing 45 per cent of the bill.

Nearly a year after the decision, however, the agreement is still in negotiation with the RCMP, local governments have a difference in interpretation on the terms and McKay is looking for assurances the CVRD won’t back out of the agreement early on. According to the mayor, individual directors have indicated they want to look again at the provision of 911 service and the partner seems “undecided.”

“I would like to see our city manager have a conversation with the Cowichan Valley folks to determine where they are going and whether or not they are intending to sign off and then give us one year’s notice to leave,” McKay said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. Why don’t you just give us notice now?”

Nanaimo is supporting 45 per cent of the cost of the agreement or $335,250, as part of the three-way partnership, but if the CVRD opts out of the agreement, the mayor says the Harbour City could be left with 90 per cent of the bill.

The agreement, intended to be for five years, allows partners to opt out with 12 months’ written notice.

“If they abandon this, we’re in trouble,” McKay said, pointing out the city would pay more than if it had gone to a provider like Vancouver-based E-Comm, which had planned to charge the partnership  $280,000.

Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said the district has agreed to sign the memo, which commits them – and its other partners – for one year, as well as hire a consultant to review options over the longer term, including E-Comm.

“I just talked to my staff member and she said we’ve agreed to sign the MOU for one year so maybe that’s what the new mayor of Nanaimo wants is to sign the five-year deal but my understanding from staff is that’s not what we agreed to do,” he said.

B.C. communities like Nanaimo reconsidered the delivery of 911 services last year after the RCMP served notice the function was no longer part of its core business and would require a five-year contract and management fee to continue. Nanaimo considered the call-answer service E-Comm, but councillors wereconcerned about outsourcing CUPE positions and loss of geographic knowledge.

Mike Dietrich, the city’s manager of police support services, said the agreement hasn’t wrapped up mostly due to administrative reasons, he said.