Five separate but interlocked boundaries combining for a greater whole might seem like an Olympic symbol this week, but local CAOs looking for more efficient regional policing might say otherwise.
Approval of the creation of a single OPP detachment board to service the municipalities of Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay, Tiny and Georgian Bay Township (District of Muskoka) was granted by all councils in recent weeks, with Tay becoming the final affirmative Wednesday evening.
The adoption of a new single OPP detachment board would replace existing ‘section 10’ police services boards across the municipalities for efficiency purposes in serving the regions. It comes as part of a 2019 Community Safety and Policing Act requirement through the Solicitor General, expected to be implemented by early 2022.
In addition to three provincial appointees, one municipal and one community representative from each of the five municipalities would make up the 13-member board.
CAOs for the five municipalities met with each other and interim OPP Southern Georgian Bay detachment commander Joe Evans, and worked together in crafting the most efficient structure to service everyone.
“We are the last of the five municipalities to review this recommendation and vote on it,” said CAO Lindsay Barron, expressing that once finalized the proposal would be sent off to the ministry of the Solicitor General before its July 31 deadline.
Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle posed a question concerning Tay’s leverage within the budget process.
“I guess my fear is, if the board is independent from council and they have that right to govern and rule, do we have any mechanism where we could control expenditures?” asked LaChapelle.
Mayor Ted Walker responded that there was shared concern in that regard.
“Unfortunately, with the set-up that the province is requiring us to go to, this basically is our only option," he said.
Tay council voted unanimously in favour of passing the proposal, and the motion carried.
Interim detachment commander for Southern Georgian Bay OPP Joe Evans expressed happiness with the collective decision to proceed.
“The OPP is committed to building trusting and collaborative relationships with its communities, stakeholders and partners in order to continue to achieve OPP’s ‘Vision of Safe Communities… A Secure Ontario’,” said Evans.
When asked what was next for Evans in the process, he responded that continuing to meet regularly between detachments and communities would be valuable to providing “insight on policing in a community."
Previously, Midland council carried the motion unanimously, praising the representation each municipality will receive.
A minority of councillors from Tiny and Penetanguishene raised concerns within their separate meetings as per the efficiency of a 13-member board in a ‘too many cooks’ type of scenario. Despite the questions raised, both Tiny and Penetanguishene councils also carried the motion.
Last week, the District of Muskoka carried their motion to approve of the single OPP detachment board “handily”, as Muskoka District chair John Klinck described the vast number of raised hands in favour.
When invited to comment, Township of Georgian Bay councillor Peter Koetsier opted to choose his words carefully.
“I don’t dare add too much for remarks because they reflect on the fact that the township of Georgian Bay are making these arrangements, yet we’re considered part of the district, which is the awkward structure that the province makes us work under,” said Koetsier, to which Klinck agreed.
Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca