Burnaby council made a smooth decision to carry the city's move of its 911 police dispatch service to E-Comm, though nine members of the Operations Communication Centre (OCC) showed up to council hoping to stop the transfer.
After discussions with E-Comm over the past several months and examining the feasibility of the regional E-Comm service model, it was decided it "can provide a cost efficient and operational effective business model to Burnaby," according to a report from the city's deputy city manager, Lambert Chu.
However, nine of the approximately 30 OCC call takers and dispatchers who attended the meeting stayed after council adjourned to raise their concerns about absorption of their jobs to E-Comm, speaking with Coun. Pietro Calendino.
Amongst the concerns was that E-Comm may not give the same level of service currently provided, and that council should ask about how much "red-lighting," (calls put on hold), is done by E-Comm.
Imagine the fear when making the most critical call of your life and you're put on hold, one of the OCC staff members, who asked to remain nameless, said to the councillor.
Calendino said the group could put in a meeting with the mayor. However, the decision to enter into a five-year agreement with E-Comm was already decided.
The councillor also added that council relied on the information and recommendation provided by the superintendent, and admit-ted that council does not know the intricacies of the call centre otherwise.
"RCMP Burnaby detachment chief superintendent [Dave] Critchley is in agreement with the transfer of the OCC operations to E-Comm, and CUPE Local 23 is prepared to work with E-Comm towards developing a transition plan that will meet the needs of its members," according to the staff report.
Final details of the union members' transfer and position resettlement will be worked out now that the proposal has been approved.
The move will save the city about $100,000, as the cost of the service for a full year is about $2.4 million.
For the next two years, the dispatch levy is expected to increase by 3.5 per cent to four per cent annually, which is subject to final budget approval by the E-Comm board of directors.
E-Comm will now handle all 911 emergency calls and nonemergency calls and dispatch, its emergency event map viewer will be made available to Burnaby, and a total of 32 Burnaby communication operators positions will be transferred there.
Currently, the OCC manages about 58,000 calls annually. E-Comm fields around one million.
There are 30 police and fire departments subscribing to the E-Comm dispatch service in southwest B.C. It was established in the late 1990s under the Emergency Communications Corporation Act as the emergency communication centre.
For more information on E-Comm, visit www.ecomm911.ca.