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.

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Vancouver police Chief Const. Jim Chu, seen in a file photo, says the trial will run for three years. (CBC)

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.

With fiels from the CBC's Meera Bains