BC government to work with Metro Vancouver police departments wanting to donate ballistic vests to Ukraine

Metro Vancouver mayors have requested the minister waive a law that prevents their police departments donating used body armor to country under attack

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The BC government says it will work with municipal police forces as they attempt to ship used body armor to the people of Ukraine.

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On Monday, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth acknowledged receipt of a letter from all of Metro Vancouver’s mayors asking that “the province of BC and the government of Canada make the necessary legislative exemptions to facilitate donations of surplus non-lethal equipment to Ukraine from local governments and police departments, including end-of-life body armour.”

This was brought about by a motion presented to the Metro Vancouver mayors’ committee last week by Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov.

Vagramov said that since 2009 in BC, it has been illegal to sell body armor without a license — and that sale includes giving, transferring or lending. Police forces do not have licenses to sell body armor and all end-of-life ballistic vests are returned to their manufacturer after a period of time to be destroyed.

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The legislation was created in part to prevent gang members from purchasing and wearing body armor.

Vagromov’s motion came as the Port Moody Police Department and other local detachments considered donating end-of-life body armor to Ukraine.

In statement, Farnworth said the BC Government stood with the people of Ukraine against Russia’s illegal invasion and remains ready to help.

“We are encouraged that people, communities, and agencies are seeking creative ways to support Ukraine, and we will be responding to the Mayor’s request soon,” Farnworth wrote.

“The ministry is working with local police agencies as they attempt to offer more support to the people of Ukraine.”

On Tuesday, Vagramov said he was hopeful the Port Moody Police Department would hear from the minister by the end of the week.

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“It would be nice to know what they are doing with this, what the issue seems to be,” Vagramov said. “We’ve had positive feedback from pretty much everybody. We haven’t heard from anybody who doesn’t think this is a good idea.”

Vagramov said a local group that is shipping aid to Ukraine from Vancouver had also contacted him to say they had space on pallets to ship the armor.

Erik Vogel, a retired Burnaby Fire Department Battalion Chief, has spent the last few years trying to donate used firefighting equipment to Latin American countries and had faced similar problems.

He said that each fire department decides what to do with used helmets, jackets and life-saving equipment. He said some end up in the landfill.

“It shouldn’t take a war to figure out we are wasting equipment,” he said, referring to the Metro Vancouver mayors’ letter to Farnworth.

Vogel said he recently loaded an out-of-service ambulance with used self-contained breathing apparatus he had secured from a Metro Vancouver fire department and driven it to Edmonton, where it will be transferred to Belize.

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