BROCKTON – Council’s decision on how to proceed regarding the compulsory joint police services board came down to a single word – notwithstanding.
After a lengthy discussion during the June 22 regular meeting, the decision was tabled until the June 24 special meeting, to provide staff with an opportunity to get additional information.
Brockton’s preference has been to keep its own police services board for a number of reasons, including the fact the courts are located in Brockton, and provincial appointees on the board are in place. Brockton’s police services board has functioned well, and ensures matters that affect policing in Brockton are handled in a way that benefits local residents.
The Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CPSA) is replacing existing boards with new boards that reflect OPP detachments. South Bruce OPP covers five municipalities – Brockton, Kincardine, Huron-Kinloss, Arran-Elderslie and South Bruce. Requirements of the new board would be a minimum of five members, community representation and provincial appointees, for a maximum board size of 15 members.
The latter three have already voted in favour of a joint board. At its last council meeting, Kincardine voted to go ahead with the joint board while seeking additional representation on that board. Brockton continued to wait for a response from the Solicitor General regarding its wish for an exemption from being part of the joint board, to continue with a stand-alone board.
The deadline for deciding whether to be part of a joint board, have a stand-alone board or relinquish any seat on a joint board, was extended to the end of June but will not be extended any further.
Faced with the impending deadline, council seemed divided between going with option one to ensure “having a seat at the table” or continuing with option two, a stand-alone board, despite fears the request for an exemption would be denied. The matter was tabled for two days.
On June 24, the wish of council appeared to be to continue trying for a stand-alone board, but accepting option one if the Solicitor General denied the request.
Clerk Fiona Hamilton told council she’d been advised that Brockton could decide to become part of the joint board later, but in the meantime, could be assessed a share of costs without having a say. And Brockton could miss out on decisions made about community members.
“We do need to be in on the ground floor,” said Mayor Chris Peabody.
Coun. Kym Hutcheon said she’d go for option one, but would be interested in looking at the possibility of getting police services from another municipality in the future.
“That way we’d have more of a say,” she said.
Coun. Dean Leifso expressed concern about how negotiations with other members of the joint board would be affected by Brockton’s continued interest in option two.
A motion was made to accept the staff recommendation in favour of option one, with amended wording to indicate option two would be preferred. The word “pending” was used in the initial attempt at amending the wording, but Coun. Tim Elphick suggested “notwithstanding,” as in, “council approves proceeding to submit a joint proposal … notwithstanding awaiting the decision of the Solicitor General.” The motion carried.
Solicitor General prefers joint board
Tuesday morning, June 29, Peabody reported Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson had set up a Zoom meeting to relay information from the Solicitor General’s office.
“The Solicitor General listened to our concerns,” said the mayor, who added that while the Solicitor General prefers Brockton be part of the joint board, “he did attempt to meet us halfway” by saying he’d be amenable to a larger board to allow good representation.
“It’s a good outcome,” said Peabody. “I can see it working.” He said that “crime doesn’t respect Brockton’s borders.”
Peabody commented on the great response from Thompson. “Very impressive,” he said.
Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times