Southgate won’t pay for extra patrols on the King’s Highway

·3 min read

For its part, Southgate has said no to a proposal that each of the Hwy. 10 and 6 municipalities in Grey-Bruce chip in for one weekend of pro-active traffic enforcement by two paid-duty OPP officers

Among other objections, some Southgate council members said that the province should foot the bill to stop speeders on “the King’s Highway.”

The cost to the municipality would have been about $4,000 for two eight-hour shifts or about $5,000 for 10-hour shifts, with the OPP absorbing the usual admin fee and the usual charge per hour for cruisers for paid-duty service.

Last year saw a huge spike in stunt driving on Hwy. 10 with people driving more than 50 km/hr. over the speed limit at points on Hwy 10 and then continuing up the Bruce Peninsula on Hwy. 6.

Detachment Commander Debra Anderson has said that the police expect the problem to be even worse this summer.

The province has brought in new legislation with stiffer penalties: from seven days each for the drivers’ licence and the vehicle impoundment at the time of occurrence to a 30-day driver’s licence suspension and a 14-day vehicle impoundment.

After conviction, driver’s licence suspension for the first offence, would be one to three years; for second offence, three to 10 years; for a third offence, a lifetime suspension that may be reduced at a later date and for fourth and subsequent offences, a lifetime driver’s licence suspension.

There was debate on the third reading last Thursday on May 20, with the vote deferred.

Locally, there are only so many officers per shift, and the priority has to be with calls for service, Mayor Woodbury said, relating the Detachment Commander’s explanation of the plan.

“On one hand I can understand the rationale,” said Deputy-Mayor Brian Milne. “On the other hand, it’s hard to pay $1.2 million to a service and then get asked for a paltry $5,000.”

“It would take a lot of convincing to get me to support this,” he said. Later after saying he was on the fence, the Deputy-Mayor ended up on the other side of the question.

The decision came to council after the Southgate Police Services Board looked at the proposal earlier in the week, and recommended against participating.

The Municipality of Grey Highlands actually took two weekends, and its council were appreciative of the initiative by the Acting Inspector Debra Anderson. The question may be coming back before council, due to a motion from Grey Highlands Deputy-Mayor.

Coun. Michael Sherson said that “speed control on Highway 10 isn’t Southgate’s problem,” but should rest with the province as it’s a provincial road.

Coun. Jim Frew, who is chair of the Police Services Board was solidly in support of the plan.

The recommendation for the funding was to come from the COVID-19 money received by the township.

Coun. Martin Shipston said that the same amount of money “can help a lot of people in our community.”

“I respect the police and I respect what they do, but I just can’t agree with this.

Mayor John Woodbury said that he had spent about an hour on the phone that day, discussing the proposal with Acting Inspector Anderson, who stressed that the plan would allow pro-active rather than re-active policing.

In the end four councillors voted for taking a pass on the program. Three members voted against the motion, the Mayor, Deputy-Mayor and Coun. Frew.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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