$data.PageTitle

The Victoria Police Department says that public safety is at risk due to a $78,000 shortfall in the department's budget to police Canada Day celebrations.

The department sent a letter to city council highlighting the deficit with less than a month remaining before what is traditionally Victoria's largest free community event.

"It's basically putting the city on notice that if they want to hold a festival on Canada Day, like they have done in years past, that there's funding required," Victoria police Chief Del Manak told CTV News on Monday.

"In years past the Victoria Police Department was asked to find the money in other line items from our budget," Manak said.

"With all the numbers of cuts that we've had and our budget being scrutinized to the level that it has and reduced significantly that we no longer have that wiggle room."

Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe has been helping the city plan its annual Canada Day festivities for 19 years. She says that if city staff can't resolve the impasse with police, then Canada Day celebrations could be scaled down or even cancelled in the future.

"Hopefully we can make sure that it's covered by contingency on Thursday with the council meeting, but as we go down the road for future budgets, it needs to be covered," Thornton-Joe told CFAX 1070 Monday.

"In many ways this event is at risk in future years," she said.

Victoria's single-day Canada Day celebrations typically attract between 40,000 and 75,000 people to various city events, the councillor said.

"The amount of officers we need for a celebration this large in comparison to how many officers we have means that overtime has to be paid and we have to bring in officers often from other municipalities to assist us," Thornton-Joe said.

"That's going to be a discussion that the committee will have to have – whether it needs to be cancelled in the future or not."

Manak said funding should be earmarked in the police budget specifically for the July 1 event.

"Had it been funded within a line item of our budget, I would not be making the request," he said.

City council is expected to deliberate on the police funding on June 6.