Regional first responders ready for digital switch

CREST inks agreement with Motorola Solutions Canada for service


The Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) switch from analog to digital is slated to start this year in the Capital Region. The new 700 megahertz system will be rolled out first in the core municipalities of Victoria, Saanich, Esquimalt and Oak Bay.

“This is actually a required upgrade. It’s going to improve service, the functionality,” said Oak Bay Police Chief Andy Brinton.

The CREST board announced Monday an agreement with Motorola Solutions Canada (Motorola) for the infrastructure equipment component of its planned replacement of the regional radio system. The new system will be based on digital radio technology known as Project 25, which provides first responders with enhanced audio clarity and coverage.

“What it will mean for Oak Bay is we’ll continue to have good radio service here in the district. The new system will be digital as opposed to analog and as responders we’ll have our own airwave where we’ll be able to operate,” said Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle. “Industry Canada created the system … this 700 MHz system specifically for responders, which is good for us. It’ll enhance the service here in the Capital Region as well as the Lower Mainland.”

In September 2014, CREST approved $24.5 million for a five-year plan to instal new transmitters and receivers, convert  existing radios to P25 compatible and purchase new radios for first responders. The infrastructure accounts for roughly half of the project.

CREST started discussions with Motorola after reviewing several potential vendors. What set Motorola apart is a concurrent partnership with Emergency Communications for British Columbia Inc., (E-Comm), which serves first responders in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.  “CREST’s alignment with E-Comm is based on a shared vision to be leaders in public safety communications providing effective emergency communications for the safety of our communities,” said Gordie Logan, chair of the CREST board of directors.

“Leveraging our buying power through our association with E-Comm allows for the highest value return and a common technology platform that will strengthen our regional public and responder safety operations.”

CREST made use of a purchase option in the contract between E-Comm and Motorola affording the same volume pricing. “The fact that CREST was able to make arrangements to benefit from the same purchasing agreement that the group on the Lower Mainland has, definitely is beneficial. They are able to enjoy that same cost savings,” Brinton said. “What else is interesting is Motorola locked in at an exchange rate that is much better than if CREST was going to them today….”

CREST saved about $1.2 to $2 million in volume pricing and the agreement reflects a $1.15 Canadian dollar to US instead of the higher current rate. The partnership also provides public safety benefits with both on a common technology platform, strengthening regional resiliency and interoperability.

“What that is going to mean is all agencies, not just on Vancouver Island but the Lower Mainland, will be on the same equipment,” Brinton said. During a natural disaster or large event where jurisdictions come together to provide emergency coverage, that would be invaluable.

“It’s a better platform to start with, and then a side benefit of it is the interoperability with the Lower Mainland,” Brinton said. “They’re going to come with similar radios and everyone’s going to know how to use them. Members who travelled would arrive with their own radios.”

Testing in the second level of underground parking at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel and other concrete buildings – “areas where we didn’t have much radio communication” – has shown a definite improvement, Cockle said.

“Fire and police have been working with CREST for a little over a year – knowing this was coming – to ensure we have the best radio capability we can get for the dollars spent. The radios are loud and clear and have good bandwidth for us.”



Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ron MacDonnell leans over the railing on Beacon Wharf Tuesday afternoon. The Town of City is currently looking into the future of the aging structure. It could make way for a concrete pontoon once part of the floating bridge over Hood Canal in Washington State. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney explores public-private partnership for iconic Beacon Wharf

Wharf committee recommends town invite pontoon company to submit proposal

Victoria police are seeking home surveillance video and witnesses following a prowling incident in Esquimalt Jan. 20. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt prowler removes air conditioner, peers into person’s home

VicPD is seeking video footage, witnesses following Jan. 20 incident

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch 94-year-old in Saanich earns permanent Canadian residency

Couple of 45 years to stay together in Cadboro Bay

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Homalco First Nation said that it will intervene in the judicial review sought by aquaculture companies with regards to federal decision to phase out 19 Discovery Island fish farms by 2022. In this picture from Sept. 24, a demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver.(Quinn Bender photo)
Chief says push for fish farm judicial review a challenge to reconciliation, Aboriginal Rights

Homalco First Nation chief reacts to Mowi and Cermaq intervention in Discovery Island decision

Most Read