Eganville – Three weeks ago North Algona Wilberforce Township Mayor James Brose cast the deciding vote in a 3-2 final count that would have had a member of council sit on some form of a Police Services Board (PSB) representing several municipalities currently served by the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
However, once council gained more information on the mandates and role of the revamped police services boards, a majority of members reversed the earlier decision and opted to maintain its current association with the Community Policing Advisory Committee (CPAC) and its partnership with the Killaloe Detachment of the OPP.
“One thing I would let council know is that I don’t think the members of one of the Upper Ottawa Valley Detachment were too thrilled about our township seeking membership,” he said. “I almost felt like the family outcast. I am still inquiring to see if there is some way to improve communication between all the boards we have in the county.”
Under the Police Services Act (1990,) municipalities that had Section 10 agreements had Police Service Boards such as City of Pembroke and Town of Petawawa. Municipalities that did not have a formal agreement/contract (ie. Section 5 municipality) had Community Policing Advisory Committees (CPAC).
Ontario then passed the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 (and once in force will repeal the Police Services Act) which requires that there be an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Detachment Board (or more than one) for each OPP detachment.
North Algona Wilberforce (NAW), along with Madawaska Valley, Killaloe Hagarty and Richards, South Algonquin, Brudenell Lyndoch and Raglan, are all members of CPAC and it works with the command team of the Killaloe Detachment
Other areas of the Ottawa Valley serviced by the OPP have established PSBs which govern police within their jurisdictions. They do so primarily by establishing priorities, objectives and policies for police services in their community and monitor performance of their police service and its leader. PSBs consist of an equal number of members appointed from both the regional or municipal council and the province, and one community member chosen by the council.
During last week’s council meeting, Mayor Brose shared some of the answers he received to questions he put forward to the Attorney General’s Office in relation to the upcoming legislative changes to local Police Services Boards.
The reason it appeared to be a rush council decision at its earlier meeting was the impending June 7 deadline for individual councils to pass resolutions indicating which boards the municipality would like to join. He asked the ministry the consequences of not meeting the June 7 deadline.
He received a letter from Emily Jefferson in the Solicitor General’s Office in which she stated, “We don't require you to provide resolutions to the ministry (the proposal only asks if all communities have agreed) but understand that councils may require these in order to approve the proposal. If we don't have a proposal by June 7th, and we haven't heard from a detachment area at all, we will be following up to check on the status.”
He also inquired about possibly withdrawing from other Police Services Boards outside their jurisdiction.
Ms. Jefferson wrote, “There will be provisions in the regulation to allow the composition of a detachment board to change. This will likely involve contacting the ministry as we'd have to review the new composition to make sure it's in line with requirements. There will be administrative and operational implications for the board when membership changes so there will likely be a minimum notice period required in the regulation.”
He also inquired about the fact NAW is serviced by two OPP Detachments and could information be shared between the two detachments as opposed to having someone attend on behalf of NAW and in turn cost the taxpayers more money.
Ms. Jefferson replied, “there are no provisions in the legislation that directly address transfer of information from one board to another in this context or how a representative who is not on a board would be able to provide input. If you could provide further detail on how you would envision that working, we can advise whether it's something that could be considered and/or if we would have the ability to put it in regulation.”
Issue Stems From Pembroke Police Services Board
The issue was raised in response to a letter sent by Ron Gervais, longtime member and chair of the Pembroke Police Services Board. The letter objects to a provincial initiative suggesting a revised PSB to include surrounding municipalities (Head, Clara and Maria, Laurentian Hills, Laurentian Valley, Whitewater Region, North Algona Wilberforce, Town of Petawawa, and sections of Admaston/Bromley) on the grounds it reduces the influence of Pembroke within the decision-making process.
Councillor Doug Buckwald, who currently sits on the Community Policing Advisory Committee (CPAC) representing the Killaloe Detachment of the OPP, spoke in favour of sitting on an additional PSB.
“I think we are missing an opportunity if we don’t participate,” he said. “Yes there will be a cost to it but it is worth it. With the detachment Staff/Sergeant present, you are able to have a candid face-to-face dialogue with him on some issues and you don’t get that if you are on the outside.”
Councillor Janet Reiche-Schoenfeldt inquired if membership was necessary in order for any township concerns to be brought before the proposed new board.
“Is there a way if there was an issue that impacted our township if we could send a letter and it is heard by the board without us having an actual representative there for every meeting?” she asked. “I mean this is going to cost the taxpayers money and I am just trying to see if there is a way we can do this without extra costs.”
Three weeks ago when Mayor Brose called for the vote for first time, Councillors Melvin Berndt and Reiche-Schoenfeldt voted against with Councillors Buckwald and Maria Robinson voting in favour, leaving Mayor Brose with the deciding vote. At the time, he saw benefits of multiple memberships.
At the time he said, “I was leaning against joining, but I agree with Coun. Buckwald that if we join it is easier for us to get out rather than trying to get in sometime later,” he said. “For that reason I will vote yes and the boards are not going to be finalized until June 7 so we will have time to back out if we decide to go that way.”
When a vote was taken at the recent council meeting, Coun. Buckwald was the only member who voted to join the other police board. Council was satisfied with representation serviced by the Killaloe Detachment and remains hopeful the four police boards in the Ottawa Valley will find a better means of communicating between each other.
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader