Skip to main content

Time for regional police? 'Brazen' Robson shooting renews idea of Metro Vancouver force


After two masked gunmen opened fire on a man in his car on Robson Street, sending innocent bystanders running for their lives, Vancouver police warned that there would likely be retaliatory violence somewhere in the region and insisted they work closely with other police agencies to combat gang activity.

But a former police chief and one-time attorney general says no matter how closely they work together, police forces are still distinct entities and the fractured policing system in Metro Vancouver is getting in the way of vital work.

“Not only is the structure affecting the accountability, it’s certainly obstructing the efficiency and the effectiveness of whatever strategy is utilized (by police),” said Kash Heed. “We’re going to see more of this before our policymakers, our politicians act.”

An all-party committee had urged the provincial government, which oversees policing, to adopt provincial or regional police services, but a year ago Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said there were “no plans” to do so, despite signs there have been moves to do so behind the scenes.

On Monday, CTV News asked whether the NDP government would be introducing legislation in the current spring session to that effect, and a ministry spokesperson replied that they would be bringing forward a bill with unspecified changes to the Police Act as an “initial step” toward broader changes.

“As part of phase two and the broader transformative work, the province is engaging with Indigenous partners, local governments, police leadership and agencies as well as human rights and community organizations,” they wrote. “This phase will also include exploring the opportunities for and implications of regionalization of police services.”

Calling the Robson shooting a “brazen disregard for human life,” Heed urged the province to take a stand in addressing gang violence with “some assertive movement” toward a unified police force for the region.

The Lower Mainland is the only metropolitan area of Canada without a unified police force, instead having a patchwork of more than 20 municipal forces (including Vancouver and New Westminster police departments, for example), various RCMP detachments that work independently, and agencies like the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Vancouver is also the only major city in the country that has not annexed its suburbs and amalgamated itself into a mega-city, despite growing support for the idea. Top Stories

Stay Connected