City councillor’s support continuing to deliver emergency dispatch services through the City of Yellowknife, despite it being cheaper to privatize the service.
A memorandum regarding whether the City should maintain current dispatch services in-house or privatize was presented at the Municipal Service Committee (MSC) meeting Monday.
During budget deliberations in 2016, council directed city administration to create a business case for privatizing dispatch services.
On Monday, they were presented with three options:
- Stay within the North and look at privatizing or contracting out to either a private or public sector provider.
- Look at privatizing to a Southern provider.
- Keep delivering dispatch services within the city.
“Our preliminary estimates show that there could potentially be a small cost saving that could be realized through privatization,” said the city’s Senior Administrative Officer Sheila Bassi-Kellett.
However, Bassi-Kellett added that further research showed the cost of privatization to the community might outweigh the savings.
“There are risks to having a private-for-profit based model where accountability to the public interest is not the top priority,” she said.
“So it definitely is a risk.”
People’s safety and security is paramount
Councillor Linda Bussey was among several councillors to throw in her support to keep dispatch services operating in-house.
“Privatizing is not worth that risk,” she said.
“I think people’s safety and security is paramount and I think it should stay in-house.”
Since budget deliberations in 2016, councillors heard a presentation from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) to discuss a territory-wide roll out of 911 services by 2019.
MACA showed interest in expanding Yellowknife’s existing dispatch centre for their primary location, a fact councillor Shauna Morgan said was something to consider.
“Given the amount of work and resources that have gone into setting up the dispatch that we have and coming this far, I don’t think it would make any sense to turn around and disband it and undo all the work that’s been done,” she said.
“We need to push further to improve the dispatch system and certainly its good news that the GNWT is interested in contacting us for 911.
“That gives us a wonderful opportunity to further improve and meet national standards and enhance the services that are provided not just for Yellowknife citizens but for the whole territory.”