11/21/2012 08:32 EST | Updated 01/21/2013 05:12 EST

Unarmed 'peace officers' step closer in Vancouver

The Vancouver Police Board has voted to approve a pilot project to create position for 30 unarmed peace officers.

The plan, approved at a board meeting Wednesday, would cost taxpayers $6.5 million over three years.

The peace officers will take on low-risk duties like traffic control, and help with patrols and investigations.

But the plan sparked questions over why the force isn't filling 57 armed officer vacancies.

"We're looking at a three-year trial period, so that's how that ties in," said Chief Const. Jim Chu.

"Certainly we would like to have our vacancies filled but we also realize there are financial pressures that we all have to live with, and we're grateful that [city] council is considering this increase for the Vancouver Police Department."

The project still needs approval from city council and the police union to go ahead.

Vancouver police hope the project will go into effect by April 2013.