Opinion

Mounties jack up 911 price

Significant rate hikes in the cost to provide emergency dispatch has the North Island 911 Corporation looking at changing how it delivers 911 services.

Jon Ambler, president of North Island 911, said the RCMP has jacked up the prices from $460,000 per year in 2012 to somewhere in the mid seven-hundred thousands for 2014, without consulting the 911 corporation.

“The price has increased by nearly 50 per cent in three years,” Ambler told Strathcona Regional District directors at a board meeting last Thursday.

The current memorandum of understanding with the RCMP expires on March 31 and with the new agreement proposed by the RCMP, the Strathcona Regional District is looking at a $40,000 increase.

Ambler said the North Island 911 board has a duty to seek out the best possible rate, without reducing the level of service.

“The responsibility of the board is to provide the service at the accepted standards and protect the assets of the organization,” Ambler said. “If someone says they could provide the service for half of what the RCMP is offering, we have to look at that.

“If we’re not getting the best deal for the taxpayer, than we’re not doing our job.”

The North Island 911 Corporation serves six regional districts, including the Strathcona Regional District – a 56,000 square kilometre area which Ambler said is larger than the size of the entire province of Nova Scotia.

Currently, 911 operates RCMP dispatch out of Courtenay and fire dispatch out of Campbell River. Ambulance dispatch is handled in Victoria.

However, 911 Corporation is looking at different cost-saving options which could change where dispatchers are located.

Ambler said the corporation has hired a consultant, who has come up with six viable options for 911.

The options are: continue with the status quo; a single, stand-alone 911 call centre service; ask Campbell River to provide both 911 dispatch as well as fire dispatch; form a commercial relationship with ECCOM to provide 911 dispatch while Campbell River would continue to provide fire dispatch; use ECCOM for both 911 and fire service; or, dissolve the 911 corporation and each regional district creates their own service.

Ambler said the consultant should be back with a more detailed report into all six options for the 911 corporation’s March board meeting.

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