The Town of The Blue Mountains’ (TBM) is looking to extend its contract with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) for another six years.
“The OPP provides us with a great service and it's very cost-effective,” said TBM Mayor Alar Soever.
Through the Collingwood/Blue Mountains OPP detachment, the OPP provide the TBM with both base service and contract enhancements.
Base services include all activity and costs related to proactive policing, such as routine patrols, crime prevention, RIDE programs, training, and administration.
In 2020, the cost of base service for TBM was $1,526,683.
Contract enhancements are defined as, “services provided to TBM over and above what the OPP determines is the minimum requirement to provide adequate and effective policing”.
Currently, TBM’s contract enhancements include one additional sergeant, an additional constable and a detachment administration clerk.
Contract enhancements in 2020 totalled $450,992. The total cost for OPP services in TBM per household in 2020 was $328.46.
The municipality does have the option to not renew the OPP contract and develop a police force of its own. However, according to Soever, an independent police force could come with elevated costs and no guarantee on the quality of service.
“The range of services that they provide is far greater than what we'd ever get from our own local police,” Soever said. “You can see from the treasurer's numbers that were around $330 per household. And this is very typical of the cost, it's a little bit higher than some of the surrounding municipalities – Meaford, for example, is a little lower at $312 per household.”
According to Soever, both Owen Sound and Hanover operated their own police forces at an annual cost of approximately $712 per household (Owen Sound) and $768 per household (Hanover).
Both TBM and Collingwood experience cost savings by sharing various administrative and human resource expenses.
At a TBM committee of the whole meeting held yesterday, council members confirmed they would like to see the town sign a new contract with the OPP for another next six years. The previous contract with the OPP was signed in 2014.
The proposed contract, along with operational costs, are outlined in the TBM staff report FAF.20.154.
“The OPP really does provide an unbelievably sound service to our residents at a very good cost compared to others,” said TBM CAO Shawn Everitt.
He pointed to a number of localized services the OPP provided over the past year, such as the enforcement work conducted on the Beaver River in August and a commercial vehicle blitz in early October.
“The commercial vehicle blitz was one of the largest commercial vehicle blitzes outside of a 400-series highway,” Everitt said, adding that the agreement also provides residents access to a brick-and-mortar police station in Thornbury.
The current contract between TBM and the OPP is set to expire on Dec. 31. Council has authorized staff to move forward with the proposed contract, which is set to take effect in January 2021.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca