Staying put: Leamington sticks with OPP
Published Wednesday, May 19, 2021 7:24AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 19, 2021 10:20AM EDT
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Ontario Provincial Police will look after the Municipality of Leamington for the foreseeable future.
During a special meeting Tuesday, council voted against two proposals from other police services.
“This decision was originally not about money, it was about level of service,” says mayor Hilda Macdonald.
But in the end, council felt the hit to tax payers would have been too hard.
“We will continue to ask for policing that meets the needs of each community,” says Macdonald.
Last year, council decided not to renew its contract with Essex County OPP for reasons including lack of coverage information and a lack of police presence.
“Our residents let us know during the last election campaign and again through the public input survey that they were not happy with the level of service from the OPP,” says Macdonald.
So the search for a new policing agency began.
The Windsor Police Service and Chatham Kent Police Service both submitted a Request for Proposal.
MPM consulting identified Windsor Police Service as the preferred proponent, stating it meets or exceeds all standards as prescribed in Ontario Regulation 3/99 Adequacy and Effectiveness of Police Services and that the proposal ensures that the municipality would receive a level of service that meets or exceeds these required provincial standards.
OPP did not submit a proposal.
Administration made a recommendation to council to not accept any proposal submitted in response to Request for Proposal for police services.
“To accept the preferred proposal would result in:a substantial tax increase to ratepayers; or
drastic cuts in current municipal services to residents; or a combination of a tax increase and cuts to services,” said the recommendation.
According to administration, the municipality would pay more than $11 million over a five-year contract with Windsor Police versus the expected OPP costs, and residents would see a tax increase in the first year of over $232 on a home assessed at $175,000.
Council unanimously voted against the proposal.
“At this time there’s no way to burden any of the tax payers with a 13 per cent increase, says councillor Bill Dunn.
“We have a capable partner at a historical moment to potentially turn the corner and be more responsive,” added Trevor Jones.
The termination of the current OPP contract becomes effective June 9, 2021 at which time the OPP will continue to provide policing services to the municipality pursuant to section 5.1 of the Police Services Act.
Macdonald says Leamington will continue to have discussions with OPP on how to improve policing moving forward.
“For anyone to think that this is over is underestimating us,” says Macdonald.