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Dryden Police OPP Costings:


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bobpyefinch

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 Category: Local News
 
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Councillor Shayne MacKinnon says he was ‘floored’ to see Mayor Greg Wilson’s Notice of Motion to add OPP Costing onto council’s agenda in October, after the OPP’s original proposal was shot-down in 2019. He believes the move could be related to a recent contract negotiation with the police union.

Councillors with the City of Dryden are set to discuss and vote on potentially pursuing a second OPP Costing process on October 26.

Mayor Greg Wilson filed a Notice of Motion to add the issue onto next month’s council meeting’s agenda earlier this week, which was approved last night at City Hall during a virtual council meeting without a discussion or a recorded vote.

The City of Dryden eventually shot down their original OPP Costing process 6-1 in May of 2019, ending roughly two years of speculation from the community. Mayor Wilson was the lone member of council to vote to accept the OPP’s offer.

However, councillor Shayne MacKinnon, who asked for a moratorium preventing any further OPP costing discussions for 15 years after last year’s decision, which was denied due to municipal laws, says Mayor Wilson should have discussed the matter with councillors before filing the motion.

“I’m floored by this call for a new police costing,” said MacKinnon, in his comments after the meeting. “Rather than acting arbitrarily, the Mayor and leader of our team should have the courtesy to discuss his concerns about our police service before putting another motion forward to abolish it.”

“I’ve been told the Mayor and another councillor attended the OPP office last week to talk to the detachment commander. That’s speculation. But if that’s the case, council should be privy to those discussions and they should not be secret.”

“I also believe that because of the timing of this request, that this motion is a sore-thumb reaction to a recently granted police arbitration award, rather than a credible need to change our services,” said MacKinnon.

MacKinnon says the Dryden Police Services Board and the Dryden Police Association entered into contract negotiations recently, and were unable to reach an agreement. The two parties made their case to an independent arbitrator assigned by the province, and MacKinnon noted the arbitration award seemed to favour the police union.

“This may be that the Mayor is unhappy with the result, and he decided to seek retribution on the union and perhaps the Dryden Police Services Board, and is now asking for another costing from the OPP,” MacKinnon added.

Wilson’s letter states that Dryden is the only community in northwestern Ontario with its own municipal police force, and policing costs per household represent about 25 per cent of the City’s annual budget.

Policing costs per household in Dryden were estimated at $1,265 per household, where the average cost in the same year in Kenora, Fort Frances and Red Lake were roughly $727, which are also roughly twice the average cost in Ontario.

Wilson's letter says policing costs have risen by 4 per cent year over year, which is twice the rate of inflation. He also says the recent contract settlement with the Dryden Police Association shows this trend is likely to continue into the future.

“The numbers quoted in the Mayor’s letter are dubious at best, and fly in the face of the numbers we received 14 months ago. If the DPS had in fact cost 73 per cent more than the OPP, the vote may have been 7-0 in favour of switching, instead of 6-1 against. But it was cheaper to keep our police service. Council needs to explain this obvious difference,” finished MacKinnon.

Following MacKinnon’s comments, Wilson said the councillor was getting ahead of himself, noting the discussion should be left for October’s meeting. Councillor Norm Bush agreed with the Mayor, but said MacKinnon’s comments were unfair.

“I see nothing in the Mayor’s motion that talks about abolishing Dryden’s police services. The Mayor doesn’t do anything that’s capricious, that’s not in the best interest in this community, and I believe that his motion, however it turns out, is only put together with the best intentions of the community at heart.”

“This discussion should take place on October 26 when people have had a chance to reflect on this. People should just keep an open mind, and understand that the intentions, I believe, are what’s best for the citizens and community of Dryden. They are not self-serving,” said Bush.

When the original OPP Costing process was voted down, Councillor Bush said the city should re-explore the option by 2021, as councillors would have more financial freedom with lesser debt repayments.

However, in May of 2019, the current set of councillors said they were not able to revisit the issue in their term, and the next municipal election isn’t set until 2022. Now, councillors will vote on whether or not to pursue another process through the OPP, on October 26 at City Hall.

You can listen to councillor Shayne MacKinnon's comments during last night's discussion below.
 

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The city’s original OPP Costing process began way back in May of 2017, when city staff requested a quote from the OPP for the cost of policing the city and amalgamating the Dryden Police Service with the OPP.

In November of 2018, the OPP’s costs were estimated at over $7.7 million, including their base cost as well as transitional costs and severance fees. The Dryden Police Service’s budget was listed at $4 million. From that presentation, councillors had 6 months to make a decision, or the proposal would be scrapped.

In May of 2019, the community packed City Hall’s council chambers to hear city staff’s final recommendation on the matter. Ultimately, city staff recommended councillors to vote down the OPP’s proposal, citing financial, liability and service level concerns.

 

While the OPP’s model projected an estimated $1 million in savings by year 5 of the OPP, the roughly $4.5 million in transitional costs would have been very difficult to swallow – as staff continue to work towards more financial flexibility and lowering debt repayments in 2021.

At a special council meeting on May 2, 2019, the city’s OPP Costing Committee -featuring members of council, the police services board and the community – also recommended against the OPP’s proposal.

Members were concerned about a loss of governance control and assurance by switching to the OPP’s model, the loss of a Dryden-dedicated community service officer and impacts to employees and the community as a whole.

For more information:
Wilson proposes another OPP Costing process
2019 ends speculation for Dryden police

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https://www.drydennow.com/local/it-s-unbelievable-councillor-on-dryden-s-opp-costing?fbclid=IwAR13uzd9iYodpLtc8NFGsUZFqItfEqrJp0nnAwrW6G1VFbMo-4fOm4txjD4

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