Concerned Motorcycle Riders of Huronia Toy Ride Cancelled
In a CTV Barrie news report that follows the announcement by the organizers, the annual toy ride has been cancelled. The biggest factor identified is the price of police escorts for the event, something that the OPP used to provide for free as a community service, is now no longer free. The costs are well over $5000.00 now. The event organizer is not happy about the cancellation of the event and expresses wonder at why the OPP is now seeking to charge them for traffic security escorts citing that it should be included in the “community policing” mandate they profess to have and already bill the townships. Instead of causing kids to miss out on the toys collected by this event, he asks people to consider dropping off the toys they would normally have given to the riders, directly to the local Salvation Army in Midland.
“The event traditionally happens on the third weekend in September but organizers say they’ve been priced out – claiming the OPP want to charge up to $7,000 for police escorts.”
“I think the OPP needs to sit back and look at their mandate in terms of their mission and vision and the true dedication of community policing when you have to charge for community policing it’s not what it’s about it’s a profit thing,” said Paul Howe with Concerned Motorcycle Riders of Huronia. – CTV NEWS
Councillor Cody Oschefski responded immediately to concerns from the community on his Facebook page (which the writer still cannot access) by offering to help get the project back on track, crowd-fund for the OPP security costs and offer to set up some other event in the meantime, pledging help with next year’s events. There are many supporters who have already chimed in online willing to donate cash or toys and looking for ways to keep the toy ride dream alive after all these years.
The ride’s spokesperson says it is simply too late this year to pull it off and asks the OPP to reconsider their stance on extra billing for this charitable event. You can watch the news coverage above. Kudos go out to Councillor Oschefski for jumping on this cause and helping to raise funds and awareness, and to the many concerned towns folk who have expressed support for the Toy Ride’s future.
Toy collection campaigns are common in the month leading up to Christmas and concerned charitable town folk are encouraged to remember the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, the local food bank, the toy drives we see yearly from the local Midland Police and the many local organizations who team up to sponsor families each year. The Toy Ride is one of many such campaigns and while it will be missed yet again this year, it will not dampen the efforts of the community to support those in need.
Let’s hope that there is a way for the Toy Ride to continue next year with the support of the OPP in Tiny, Tay and Penetanguishene. In our inquiries with sources at the Midland Police, such events are generally covered by the cooperation between the police and public works and don’t generally incur any extra fees unless special resources need to be brought in.
It is a good time to mention that with our Council comparing local policing costs to the OPP quote that should be arriving this fall, that it seems that local community policing is like going to a buffet restaurant where you pay one price and get everything included and that contracting out to the OPP is like going to a regular a-la-carte restaurant where you order off a menu and pay for every item and seemingly get billed for each item you consume. This extra billing issue with traffic escorts only highlights the future cost uncertainty that Midland will face if we go with an outsourced contracted policing solution.