Windsor

Windsor police proposal too pricey for Leamington council; OPP service to continue

Leamington town council voted against a proposal from the Windsor Police Service (WPS) to replace the Ontario Provincial Police on its streets at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Switching to Windsor Police Service would cost the municipality over $3 million more per year

OPP will continue to patrol Leamington streets after June 9. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

Leamington Town Council voted against a proposal from the Windsor Police Service (WPS) to replace the Ontario Provincial Police on its streets at a special meeting Tuesday evening.

"Turning it down was not indicative of the quality of the proposal from Windsor Police Services," Mayor Hilda MacDonald said.

"It's just the price-peg that we can't afford."

Last year, citing dissatisfaction with the service and low staffing levels they were getting from the provincial police service, the town put out a request for proposals from other police services to operate in the town and WPS was eventually selected as the preferred option.

There needs to be transparency, we need to know how many officers are on duty, that's just something that is for the safety of the public and the safety of the officers themselves.- Paul Tiessen

At Monday's meeting, council discussed a report from administration that looked at the WPS proposal. It showed that it would cost $9.4 million dollars to begin using WPS through 2022, which is more than $3 million dollars over the $6.1 million it would pay to continue using the OPP for the same period.

Administration said that would mean a 13 per cent raise in municipal taxes for property owners and it would equate to an average of a an average raise of $232 dollars per household. 

In a unanimous vote, council voted not to accept any proposals that were submitted to them.

OPP to continue

MacDonald said it would be able to continue with OPP past June 9, despite the fact that they did away with the contract. She said she would likely be in contact with them later this week to begin a conversation about next steps.

"We'll have dialogue with the OPP to see if we can either get enhancements or have an agreement where we can hire extra boots on the ground," MacDonald said.

Councillor Paul Tiessen said there needs to be a change from the the top down at the OPP to make policing what the town would consider adequate and effective.

"There needs to be transparency, we need to know how many officers are on duty, that's just something that is for the safety of the public and the safety of the officers themselves," he said.

Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald says it is too pricey to switch to Windsor Police Services. (Jason Viau/CBC)

MacDonald said a coming change in the board structure and funding model of the OPP is room for optimism and that while the proposal process was a big exercise to go through to end up back where they began, it wasn't all for not.

"Our voices were heard in the upper echelons of OPP as well as in the halls of provincial government and I think that is not a lost cause at all." she said

"I will tell you that the fact that we pushed back at the OPP hasn't just stayed [in Leamington]... We've had other communities come up to us and say we're not happy either." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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