OPP detachment board receives questions, feedback from Hornepayne council

Municipal councils across the Algoma district continue to assess the viability of a regional Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment board that is poised to give each municipality more input when it comes to law enforcement in the north.

However, some municipalities have questions about logistics and the resources needed to support the operation of a regional detachment board.

During a regular council meeting earlier this month, Hornepayne’s Mayor Cheryl Fort described the requirement to form a detachment board as “downloading.”

The Ministry of the Solicitor General is set to introduce a newly revised Community Safety and Policing Act that will come into effect on April 1.

The purpose of the revised act is to introduce a new framework for community policing and safety that gives civilians more opportunities to get involved, including the formation of regional detachment boards that will consist of members from municipalities in each region.

Fort took specific aim at the lack of flexible options for municipalities – particularly when it comes to how the board is funded.

“There needs to be funding allocated for this. We already pay enough for policing as a small municipality – we’re 1,000 people,” Fort said.

She noted if the municipalities/communities involved – including White River, Dubreuilville, Chapleau, Wawa, Michipicoten First Nation and Hornepayne First Nation – cannot reach a decision, then it will be up to the Ministry of Solicitor General to decide on a funding model.

“We have no control over how this is going to affect our bottom line,” Fort said.

“It is going to affect our tax dollars and we’re seeing it at budget time. We need our money to spend in our community. We cannot be spending it on provincial stuff. It’s a service that they offer to the community’s OPP and I think this should be covered under their budget -- not ours.”

Another one of Fort’s concerns is that whoever is selected to represent Hornepayne and sit on the board will have to travel to Wawa in order to meet with other members, thus incurring further costs.

“Not only are we going to pay our portion to sit on it, we’ll pay our portion of expenses to it,” she said.

Most councillors seemed to agree that costs and logistic problems could get out of hand. Coun. Belinda Kistemaker suggested it could lead to the detachment board failing before it even starts.

Hornepayne’s chief executive officer, Aileen Singh, documented council’s responses and sent a formal letter to the ministry with their feedback.

“We respectfully ask that the Ministry give special consideration to municipalities, like ours, from placing this extra and additional burden on tax payers and respectfully request funding to assist in covering the remuneration and operational expenses of OPP detachment boards,” Singh wrote.

“Council is looking forward to working with the Ministry to ensure the best outcome for the long-term welfare, growth, and sustainability of the community.”

Austin Campbell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SNnewswatch.com