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Hamilton needs to take control of its policing: Merulla

City council will vote on payday loans, a new 21-storey student residents in downtown Hamilton and the city's control over policing on Wednesday.

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs is tweeting live from Wednesday's city council meeting

City council will vote on payday loans, a new 21-storey student residents in downtown Hamilton and the city's control over policing on Wednesday. (Terry Asma/CBC)

When Toronto speaks, everyone listens.

That's why a Hamilton councillor is using the Big Smoke's latest debate over its $1-billion police budget to make his own point again — cities should have more control over their police services.

Coun. Sam Merulla says policing takes up 20 per cent of the city's budget, but council has no control over it. He'll try to get city councillors to vote once again to lobby the province about that. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Coun. Sam Merulla pushed city council in 2013 to ask the province for more control over Hamilton Police Services. The city should govern the service directly, he said, or at least get to decide who sits on its board.

Policing is overseen in Ontario by local police boards, which are made up of a mix of provincial and city appointees and local councillors. And despite police costs accounting for 20 per cent of the city budget, council ultimately has little say over policing.

Merulla will try to get city council to "reaffirm" its position at a meeting Wednesday night. In Toronto, Mayor John Tory has just struck a new task force to look at "transforming" policing, including how to modernize operations and contain costs.

"Because Mayor (John) Tory says it, the world is listening," the Ward 4 councillor said. "We already have it on the books."

Merulla's motion wasn't an easy sell in 2013. After much debate, it passed 8-6.

Here's what else is on the agenda for Wednesday night's city council meeting:

CBC Hamilton reporter Samantha Craggs will tweet live from the meeting. Follow her tweets at @SamCraggsCBC or in the window below. 

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