In a CBC report on August 19th 2016, Dave Canfield, the mayor of Kenora, Ont. is lobbying for changes that would lower police costs in his community now that they have switched to OPP (an ironic move based on the promise of lowered police costs). Canfield’s voice joins that of dozens of other communities in the Province who sought the OPP as way to control police costs only to find the new costs spiralling out of control even with the “new” costing model announced for 2016.
In a similar exploration, Midland Council has asked for and should soon have, the interim cost quote for OPP policing and will weigh that cost and service delivery against those currently in place with the local Midland Police Service. One does not have to look very hard to find that OPP policing is not the solution to policing costs in the Province – and can actually make it far worse for struggling municipalities as they lose all control and say in how they are policed and are simply presented an invoice without any ability to negotiate salaries or control the costs incurred for every call for service by their citizens.
The CBC reports:
“Policing costs in Kenora are currently among the highest in Ontario, but Mayor Dave Canfield is hopeful that will change after this week’s Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference.
Canfield and the Kenora delegation raised the issue of policing in that community with Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Service representatives during the three-day AMO gathering in Windsor.
At issue, specifically, Canfield said, is the cost associated with police calls for service in Kenora, which is policed by the OPP.
“We’ve always said policing is a right, it’s not a privilege,” he said. “Everybody deserves policing, and it should be fairly similar to the education tax. Everybody should be paying a percentage towards policing.”
“It doesn’t matter where I am or where you are or where anybody is, if you travel in this province, you expect to have adequate police service.”
Kenora, Canfield said, is a hub community. That is, it hosts many services — such as a regional courthouse — that are utilized by people from surrounding areas.
That, he said, draws more people to the city, which, in turn, means the police force is busier.
However, Kenora pays for the costs associated with the police workload.
Current system ‘unfair’
“It’s unfair to the people in the community, the taxpayers in the community, that are picking up these costs,” he said. “They should be either provincial or federal.”
Canfield did point out that the government has made some changes already that have lowered Kenora’s policing costs.
A new formula that calculates the rate paid for policing saw a drop of about $200 in the per-household base rate.
However, the per-household rate accounts for about 60 per cent of policing costs, while the call-for-service charge accounts for the other 40 per cent.
If the call-for-service rate keeps rising, it could cancel out any savings brought on by the drop in the per-household rate.
“Your calls for service can still push your costs back up,” he said.
Canfield said the government talks went well, but bringing about any changes will require more lobbying.
“Eventually, it comes around and it starts to pay dividends,” he said. “My glass is always half-full.”