Bid to hold referendum on Espanola police force deferred

ESPANOLA—Mayor Ron Piche met a stumbling block in his efforts to fulfill a campaign promise when the Espanola municipal council voted to defer a motion to hold a referendum that would see residents choose which service would provide policing to the town, the current Espanola Police Service or the Ontario Provincial Police.

The motion was placed on the March 14 council meeting agenda, but failed to garner enough support to proceed. Over the past two years, the town has been costing the provision of police services from the OPP, which would include the construction of a new building to house the service.

That costing has not yet been completed and as such, councillors such as Stewart Meikleham voiced disappointment that such a large issue would come forward without all of the information necessary to make an informed decision. Others noted that comparable multi-million dollar decisions are made by council members without resorting to referendums.

The cost of the referendum being touted as in the range of $28,000, was also a concern, with councillors reluctant to pull funds from a reserve for something seen to be an operational item.

Following debate, councillors opted to defer the motion at the suggestion of Councillor Meikleham.