Just two years since the initiative was first announced, representatives from E-Comm, government and police agencies gathered to celebrate the opening of the South Island 9-1-1/Police Dispatch Centre on March 6.
The new two-storey, 1,200-square-metre, post-disaster facility in Saanich, built and owned by the Capital Regional District (CRD) and operated by E-Comm, amalgamates 9-1-1 call-answer, police call-taking and dispatch services for the Central Saanich, Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria police departments and 11 RCMP detachments in the central and southern Vancouver Island region.
More than 100 police, local government representatives, stakeholders and contractors who worked on the building participated in the ceremony, which started off with the Greater Victoria Police Pipe Band leading the speakers to the podium followed by a territorial welcome by Florence Dick of the Songhees Nation.
B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth praised those who work on the front lines of public safety every day. “Here in this building, we have professional call takers and dispatchers. They are the reassuring voices you hear when you call 9-1-1 and the take-charge, highly-trained people who get you the help you need.”
The CRD invested $13.1 million to build the facility on time and under budget. “The CRD welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with partners to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies. This new centre is a strong example of how working together will improve efficiencies and help us to meet post-disaster standards,” said Colin Plant, CRD Board Chair and emcee for the event.
E-Comm President and CEO Oliver Grüter-Andrew said the organization is all about emergency communications. “All E-Comm staff share a dedication to public safety that makes me incredibly proud. We are ready to continue to serve police officers and Vancouver Island residents to the very best of our ability no matter what the circumstance or time of day.”
The centre began operations in late January, following the successful transition of all police agency call-taking and dispatch operations over a two-week period. An estimated 100,000 9-1-1 calls will be answered each year by the new centre.