Small Ontario community calls OPP billing model unfair

A leader with one small Ontario municipality says the new Ontario Provincial Police charge for communities it services makes municipalities pay an unfair amount of bills for larger cities.

Communities with little crime have to pay for service in larger cities, leader says

A new OPP billing model introduced by the province this week aims to more fairly distribute policing costs, but many smaller communities say they're shouldering too much of the load. (The Canadian Press)

A leader with one small Ontario municipality says the new Ontario Provincial Police charge for communities it services makes municipalities pay an unfair amount of bills for larger cities.

The province announced the new billing model Thursday, saying it will "more fairly and transparently distribute policing costs."

"This eliminates the large differences in the amounts municipalities were charged and provides municipalities with better data so they can understand the types of calls for police service in their community and direct crime prevention strategies," the province said in a news release.

Many small, rural municipalities now won’t be able to afford OPP service, according to Tay Valley Deputy Reeve Susan Freeman.

Her community of about 5,600 people that wraps around Perth, Ont., will see its OPP bill triple from about $500,000 a year to $1.5 million, she said.

"I have been angry and outraged since this first came out," she said.

"We have two officers to work the whole of Tay Valley, I never see an OPP cruiser on any of our roads. Why are you paying the same when you are getting differentials in service?"

OPP most affordable option for communities: Naqvi

Freeman said the municipality will look at lowering services and raising property taxes to pay for the 200 per cent increase in the cost of OPP service.

She added they were already expecting a 20 per cent increase.

Ontario Community Safety Minister, Yasir Naqvi, said using the OPP is still cheaper than the alternatives.

"Regardless of changes with the new billing model, the OPP still remains the most cost-effective option for most municipalities in Ontario," he said.

Freeman said she and other municipal leaders will raise their concerns with the province at the annual Association of Municipalities Ontario conference in London, Ont., this weekend. 

The changes come into effect Jan. 1, 2015 and will be phased in over five years.