The Murder of Lindsay Buziak

May 2/2022 Lindsay Buziak Murder and Colin Nielsen – a man with a passion and a strong advocate for regional policing.

All articles and comments on this page have been written by retired RCMP officer Colin Nielsen, a man who strongly believes that regional policing is the way to go if we are to see corrections to our fractured system. Colin Nielsen of Victoria is a former RCMP member who served on Vancouver Island from 1967 to 1997.

The recent report published on provincial policing is a most interesting report

I understand the committee’s rational for wanting more local accountability over Provincial Policing, like Ontario and Quebec, which have their own Provincial Police forces.  I’m a bit skeptical that the Province will actually push the regional policing model in the Lower Mainland and on the Lower Island, as they always want local political buy in. 

Surrey is currently creating its own Police Service, that will complicate going with a Regional Force, which has been recommended before by two official studies done by Wally Oppal, one in 1992 and another in 2012 – but regional policing did not happen (After Surrey Police Service is up and running, the Lower Mainland will have one more police force, in addition to the RCMP, Port Moody, New Westminster, Delta, West Vancouver and Vancouver).  Here on the south Island, Victoria and Esquimalt, who currently share the Vic PD, both Mayors and Councils favour a regional force, but Saanich does not

Whether the Liberals, NDP or Socreds were in office, regional policing couldn’t get to square one and, unless the Province orders it, it likely won’t happen. 

The biggest obstacle is who would provide oversight to a Regional Force and what body would provide the budgeting?  Victoria and Esquimalt have had a rough relationship – 2 municipalities sharing one Police Department.  Budget disputes between the two have been sent to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General on several occasions for adjudication when the parties couldn’t agree (they currently have a dispute in for adjudication because Esquimalt refused to pay a portion of increased Vic PD costs for 2022). 

Adding more municipalities to the mix wouldn’t work

A Regional Police Department would need to be under something like the Capital Regional District (CRD), however the CRD is merely a Federation that allows municipalities to share services – their Board of Directors are not directly elected, hence they have no direct accountability.  The Province would need to change legislation to give the CRD power to establish a Regional Police Department, enable them to budget for a Regional Department and empower them to set up a Regional Police Board – I’m skeptical that the Province is willing to do so, but I hope that they surprise me. 

Having said that, the recommendations to do more for housing, mental health supports, etc may lead to some changes in those areas.  There’s a long road ahead on this – establishing a Province Police Force will take a couple of years.  We’ll just have to wait and see what the Government does with the Regional Policing recommendation.

REGIONAL POLICINGIt will take political courage to make the necessary changes.

There are Mayors that will not support this change – as an example, Stu Young is the long-time Mayor of Langford, BC’s fastest growing City.  He strongly supports retaining the RCMP – his MLA and close friend is Premier John Horgan. I’m of two minds when it comes to replacing the RCMP with a Provincial Police Force and Police personnel in the 65 municipalities (soon to be more due to the last census) that the RCMP Polices.  Westshore actually works quite well; even though View Royal, Colwood and Langford (and soon Metchosin) each have separate contracts for RCMP service, they work out of one location, have one supervisor per shift, share administration costs and utilize personnel as, when and where required, without regard to jurisdiction. 

Langford owns the Police Building and Colwood, View Royal, the Province and (soon) Metchosin pay rental to Langford for their proportionate shares. 

And, Westshore has never had any of their municipalities refer a funding dispute to the Province for resolution to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, as Victoria and Esquimalt has.  Stu is happy with the status quo, he knows that a Municipal service would be more expensive and doesn’t know what the financial impacts would be under a Regional model.  if, however, the Government does decide to follow through on the recommendation to replace the RCMP, that’s a different story. 

The major stumbling block for a regional service is our local fractured political landscape – who would provide oversight and budgeting for a regional force,  The CRD, given the current restrictions it works under, legislative changes to the Community Charter and Local Government Act, would be required to place policing directly under the CRD.  To meet the requirements of Civilian oversight, the current CRD model of a Regional District Board would have to change. 

21 Municipal Board members are not directly accountable for actions they take at the Board

THEY ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST COUNCILLORS AND MAYORS REPRESENTING THE BEST INTERESTS OF THEIR LOCAL COUNCILS, TO WHICH THEY ARE ELECTED (Saanich and Victoria have unrecognized votes for the council members that sit as CRD Board members).

To gain the type of accountability necessary to fund a regional police department, a model such as that used by the Niagara Regional Government would be best suited.  Niagara Regional Police have responsibility for 12 municipalities – Their Regional Government is a Second Tier of local government, they have a council with 31 members as follows:

1)    One (1) Regional Chair, elected Region Wide for a 4 year term  (at-large)

2)   12 are Mayors (with dual rolls, who bring local council input to the Regional Council table), 

3)    19 Regional Councillors – proportionate to each municipality – these regional councillors DO NOT SIT on local councils, hence can be held accountable by their municipal electors for the decisions they make (how they vote) on Regional Council. 

This provides a degree of accountability that the CRD Board does not have.

To create a Regional Police force/service, the CRD model would need to be reinvented as another local Tier Government, with authority to create and manage its own budget – municipalities would be the tax collectors on behalf of the reconstituted CRD.  This is where regional policing is challenging.  This would remove policing costs from municipal budgets altogether.  It’s worked in Ontario for 50 years, so why couldn’t it work here.

It will take political courage to make the necessary changes. There are Mayors that will not support this change – as an example, Stu Young is the long-time Mayor of Langford, BC’s fastest growing City.  He strongly supports retaining the RCMP – his MLA and close friend is Premier John Horgan

I fully support Regional Policing but am skeptical that the Government will be willing to do the hard work to make it possible.  I just hope I’m wrong.

IS A UNIFIED POLICE FORCE THE SOLUTION TO INVESTIGATING FUTURE CRIME OF THIS NATURE?

Retired RCMP officer Colin Nielsen, certainly believes regional policing is the way to go. When interviewed by Black Press Media Colin had this to say. “It’s sad that Lindsay Buziak’s murder investigation has gone on so long and there’s been no outcome. I’m a firm believer in regional policing. Now that’s now going to help in Lindsay’s case, but I think if we had one unified police department in Greater Victoria we’d get better outcomes of any future horrific crimes like this one happening, rather than our fractured system that we have right now.”

Colin Nielsen wrote an article on regional policing a few years ago, stating that he believed regional policing was the only way to go if we are to reduce the amount of major crimes in our cities and municipalities. The first step towards regional policing occurred in 2003, when the Victoria Police Department began policing Esquimalt. Taxpayers in Victoria and Esquimalt now share the costs of policing the reginal core and downtown Victoria. Other municipalities contribute nothing to policing the downtown core.

RESISTANCE BY SAANICH WAS ALWAYS THE MAJOR OBSTACLE TO MOVING FORWARD ON REGIONAL POLICING

Saanich chose NOT to participate in the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit when it was formed in 2010. Colin believes that Saanich should have jumped at the opportunity to join the Integrated Major Crime Unit, which would have created a much larger pool of investigators to work on this horrendous crime. Even though Saanich has now joined the unit, it is doing so in an underwhelming way. The population of Saanich exceeds that of Victoria and Esquimalt combined. Victoria and Esquimalt have provided six officers and one civilian to VIMCU since the unit’s inception at a cost of about $900,000 annually.

In announcing that Saanich will join the Integrated unit,

Mayor Frank Leonard said Saanich’s cost for three officers and one support person would be $400,000, 45 per cent of Victoria’s cost. Another example of inequity occurred when Victoria announced the redeployment of one member of the Domestic Violence Unit to other duties. Created in 2010 as a result of the Lee/Park murder-suicide in Oak Bay in 2007, the unit was originally staffed with two officers from Victoria and one each from the RCMP and Saanich. Once again, Victoria committed twice as many resources as Saanich, even though Saanich has the larger population. When Victoria was forced to redeploy one officer to other duties, it was criticized, even though it was just reducing its commitment to equal Saanich’s.

THESE ARE TWO EXAMPLES THAT DEMONSTRATE WHY INGEGRATION HAS FAILED AND WHY REGIONALIZATION IS NECESSARY.

Comment: Province must take the lead on regional policing – Victoria Times Colonist

CRIMINOLOGISTS SAY THE FALLING RATES ARE DUE to underfunding and a re-distribution of resources away from major crime. And what the hell, Crown counsel will only lay charges in cases that are likely to see a conviction in the courts. The community distrust plays a powerful role and makes it difficult for police to get co-operating witnesses to come forward in order to solve murders. If people don’t feel protected by their local law enforcement agency they certainly are not going to co-operate.

QUOTE

Numerous tips are being worked on.  We need more engagement in this process.  Progress on both the ongoing civil suit and initial review of the Murder is encouraging but much more assistance is required“.

Lawrence Skwarek C.E.O.

The Zonta Group is a professional private investigation firm located in Vancouver.  A group of highly skilled investigators with very diverse backgrounds who are now actively investigating the unsolved murder of Lindsay Buziak.  If anyone out there has information they would like to share with Zonta Investigations you will find an anonymous tip line on their website.  If you wish to speak to someone personally you can contact the CEO of Zonta Research Group at 778-995-2860

http://zontaresearchgroup.com

Email Address: murderondesousa@gmail.com

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