“An outstanding example of collaboration, partnership and hard work”

9-1-1 and police dispatch operational at new Vancouver Island Centre.
9-1-1 and police dispatch operational at new Vancouver Island Centre.

It’s been a busy kick-off to 2019 for E-Comm and our public safety partners, marked by the start of operations for the new South Island 9-1-1/Police Dispatch Centre.

Located in Saanich, this state-of-the-art, post-disaster facility consolidates 9-1-1 call-taking and dispatch services for police agencies in Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich and Oak Bay, along with 11 RCMP detachments. The centre, constructed and owned by the Capital Regional District and operated by E-Comm, is now serving communities from Ladysmith to Victoria.

“We have started 2019 with a great enhancement to public safety communications in British Columbia,” said E-Comm President and CEO Oliver Grüter-Andrew. “This initiative is an outstanding example of collaboration, partnership and hard work.”

Before this new centre, 9-1-1 call-taking and dispatch services for central and southern Vancouver Island police agencies were handled out of three emergency call centres in Langford, Saanich and Victoria.

Victoria Police Department Chief Constable Del Manak was joined by members of his department as he made his inaugural broadcast from the new centre on January 22.
Victoria Police Department Chief Constable Del Manak was joined by members of his department as he made his inaugural broadcast from the new centre on January 22.
Oak Bay Police Chief Constable Andy Brinton and Saanich Police Chief Constable Bob Downie
Oak Bay Police Chief Constable Andy Brinton (left) and Saanich Police Chief Constable Bob Downie spoke to their members live from the centre on January 29.
RCMP Chief Superintendent Sean Sullivan and the Island District Commander and Central Saanich Police Service Chief Constable Les Sylven
RCMP Chief Superintendent Sean Sullivan (left), the Island District Commander and Central Saanich Police Service Chief Constable Les Sylven completed their agency transitions to the centre on Februrary 5.

Staff from those facilities moved to the new centre over a two-week transition period from January 22 to February 5. Just seconds after the first official cutover at 7:47 a.m. on January 22, call taker Tammy Gibbs answered the first 9-1-1 call—a request for the ambulance service.

Consolidation and efficiency were key factors in developing this project, according to Saanich Police Chief Constable Bob Downie, who is a co-chair of the steering committee for this initiative. “The coordination between different police units is made better by having a single consolidated centre,” said Downie. “It’s all done here, it’s all done seamlessly, it’s all done under one management team, and the region’s going to be better served because of it.”

“I can tell you what you’re seeing here is exactly what the vision for this project was right from the beginning,” added Lois Karr, director of Operational Communications Centre Program for the RCMP and a co-chair of the steering committee. “It’s been amazing to watch it all come together.” She also praised the role of emergency call-taking staff. “We all know that call takers and dispatchers are the first of the first responders and how crucial their job is.”

E-Comm is expected to handle approximately 95,000 9-1-1 calls per year through the Vancouver Island centre. Combined with its operations facility in Vancouver, the largest 9-1-1 centre in B.C, E-Comm will now be handling 99 per cent of the provincial 9-1-1 call volume. In 2018, E-Comm answered approximately 1.6 million 9-1-1 calls.

“I applaud everyone who worked so diligently over the past two years to bring this transition to Vancouver Island’s first post-disaster emergency communication centre to fruition,” praised Grüter-Andrew. “But the work is not over by any means. We look forward to our new public safety partnerships and working together with police agencies to keep the residents of these Vancouver Island communities safe.”