Ottawa

Ottawa police spending $600K to operate provincial checkpoints

It's costing Ottawa police $600,000 to oversee provincial checkpoints on the Quebec border as part of Ontario's stay-at-home order, according to a financial report to the police board.

Hiring freeze, budget scenarios also to come up at Monday's board meeting

Ottawa Police Service officers staff a checkpoint on the Ontario side of the Chaudière Bridge on April 19, 2021. The next day, police announced they'd only be enforcing the checkpoints sporadically. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

It's costing Ottawa police $600,000 to oversee provincial checkpoints on the Quebec border as part of Ontario's stay-at-home order, according to a financial report to the police board.

The province ordered those checkpoints in April. Two days after beginning the work, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) said officers would not be monitoring all the interprovincial crossings around the clock, but would instead rotate through checkpoints throughout the city.

In the financial report, police say they've been assured by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones that the province will reimburse the costs.

Ottawa police pause hiring 

In a separate report to the board, the force said it needs to hire just 28 officers in 2021 to meet its staffing needs, down from an original expectation of 44 hires to both grow the force — as set out in last year's police budget — and account for retiring and resigning officers.

It will, though, pause "recruitment for growth hires," police said.

That's due in part to budget constraints, the report said, and also because the service is readying itself for a 2022 police budget that could be frozen.

OPS has no recruits at the Ontario Police College (OPC) for this May's basic constable class, and "hiring will be paused for the September OPC intake as well," the report said.

If hiring isn't resumed until the December 2021 class, the service said that delay would pose "significant risk" to the force because those officers wouldn't be able to independently patrol city streets until May of 2022.

2022 police budget

In addition to a police budget frozen to this year's budget,  the OPS is drafting two other scenarios for 2022.

One would see a 1.5-per-cent increase, while the other would see a three-per-cent increase.

The service expects to update the board in July on what each of the scenarios would mean for full-time employees, the services it provides to the city and its policing priorities.

Community engagement consultant

Police board chair Coun. Diane Deans is also asking the board to approve the hiring of a consultant to help the oversight body develop a community engagement plan.

The request comes after a 2021 budget process that saw hundreds of public delegations to the board. Those delegates criticized not only the board's oversight of the service but also board members themselves.

Deans would like the board to hire PACE Public Affairs & Community Engagement to do that work, which would "allow members of the racialized community, as well as the broader community, to engage with the board on an ongoing basis," according to a report.

Pre-consultation costs are pegged at $48,850, with additional costs to be billed. The police board is next scheduled to meet on Monday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaamini Yogaretnam

CBC Ottawa reporter

Shaamini Yogaretnam is CBC Ottawa's justice, crime and police reporter. She has spent nearly a decade covering crime in the nation's capital. You can reach her at shaamini.yogaretnam@cbc.ca or 613-220-2486. You can find her on Twitter at @shaaminiwhy

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