At the October Village of Westport Council Meeting, it passed a motion for Mayor Robin Jones to bring Council’s concerns over the high cost of OPP policing to the attention of the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Council and to encourage discussion on a regional policing model. Below are the highlights of this discussion at the regular United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Council Meeting held on Thursday, November 19. I will continue to keep you updated as the discussions continue at Counties Council.
Committee looking at policing options: The Counties Committee of the Whole is examining policing options following a motion from the Village of Westport and a Counties staff summary of 2016 policing costs in Leeds and Grenville.
Robin Jones, Mayor of Westport, said it was not a discussion about the quality of police work, but instead about the increase in policing costs from 2014 to 2016. Ms. Jones said the time to act is now to examine policing options, including a regional force suggested in 2014. Ms. Jones does not believe a response from the government is expected anytime soon regarding a review of the Police Act.
Roger Haley, Mayor of Front of Yonge Township, said his municipality does not mind paying its fair share, however, to move to the new costing formula so quickly is unmanageable and unaffordable for his municipality. He said he fully supports looking at regional policing. Councillor Doug Malanka, Mayor of Augusta Township, concurred, stating it is time to think about what would be best for local communities, and not wait for legislation.
Joe Baptista, Mayor of Leeds and the Thousand Islands, said the change to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) funding makes it increasingly difficult to accommodate the increases. Ron Holman, Mayor of Rideau Lakes, is concerned about changes to the funding model, especially the data provided by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) which identifies seasonal properties and trailer park homes. He said he preferred a slower process to see what changes the province may consider and what services may be transferred to municipalities.
Councillor Jim Pickard, Mayor of Elizabethtown/Kitley, said studies have already been done and suggested the Committee have time to review those studies prior to moving forward.
Counties Chief Administrative Officer, Andy Brown said there were several issues being discussed; who delivers, funding model, and how policing is conducted. He said staff will gather previous studies for the Committee to review and then draft a strategy so that the message can be sent to the province.