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$1.8 million earmarked for emergency mobile command centre for Richmond

Coun. Michael Wolfe voted against the command centre saying a diesel truck doesn't fit with city's green fleet strategy.
Richmond city council wants to buy a mobile command centre for police, fire, ambulance and other emergency responders.

Richmond is moving forward with getting a new mobile command centre vehicle, which will cost about $1.8 million.

City council passed the 2024 one-time expenditures budget on Monday, which includes a “public safety mobile command and communication centre vehicle” for the Richmond RCMP and other first responders — such as fire rescue, ambulance services and the coast guard — to use in joint operations.

Coun. Michael Wolfe was alone in voting against the mobile command vehicle after expressing concern with the vehicle’s potential environmental impact and questioning how it fits into the Green Fleet Action Plan, which aims to reduce emissions from city vehicles.

“It's a large diesel truck that's going to be polluting the air at these community events where the kids are and for the workers who are going to be in it,” he said. “So, there's electric alternatives out there, and we should be getting our staff to follow the strategy and get that.”

The previous mobile command centre was decommissioned in 2018 due to mould and other maintenance issues.

Chief Supt. Dave Chauhan told city council the vehicle can be used for emergencies — like natural disasters to acts of violence — and community events.

He added the vehicle will be “really helpful” in Hamilton as there is currently no community policing office in that area.

Richmond got its last command centre in 1997, but it was out of service by 2018, Chauhan said.

An estimate of almost $200,000 in funding is also included in the operating budget for fuel, maintenance, insurance and future replacement. The tax impact is expected to be 0.07 per cent.

Coun. Chak Au said, while he is not opposed to the idea of having a command centre, he thinks there should be more discussion on whether it will be used fully and about the different types of vehicles available.

“I remember the past command vehicle we had,” Au said. “I think it was not well used all the time. That's why I think it was being decommissioned.”

Coun. Alexa Loo said the previous command centre was an old, redeveloped RV and was pulled from service because it was not safe to use due to its condition, which included problems with mould.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie asked if city staff can return to council to inform them of the potential vehicles they will be scoping out.

Although they usually do not report back to council during the procurement process, city staff will in this case due to the committee’s interest, said finance director Mike Ching.

Wolfe proposed an amendment to remove the command centre from the budget, but it failed after only receiving support from Au.

The one-time expenditures budget totals about $2.9 million and includes $810,000 for city events and almost $112,000 for boulevard maintenance.