MINDEMOYA – Central Manitoulin has added its name to the list of municipalities on Manitoulin Island that are in favour of Manitoulin continuing to have its own community policing advisory board.
At a regular meeting last week, council considered a recommendation from its safety, security and health committee, “that we recommend to council to support in concept two police services boards for the Manitoulin OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) area, and further, that one of those boards be specifically made of Manitoulin Island municipal representatives. Manitoulin-Espanola OPP detachment covers a very large geographical area (whereas) Manitoulin Island is physically divided (from the mainland) by a bridge. Further, that the traffic volume on Manitoulin Island primarily services our local area, and a large tourist population. Along with the geographic separation there are many differences in composition of our communities whereby a separate police board may be more effective in establishing local objectives and priorities.”
Councillor Steve Shaffer told council, “this is the direction the province is going. We have discussed this issue at CPAC (Manitoulin Community Advisory Committee) who are in favour of maintaining two police boards, one for Manitoulin and one for Espanola.” He pointed out the province has not provided their final direction, and “we don’t know as of yet the makeup will be of the boards.”
“It makes sense to try at the start lobby for having our own police board for the Island,” said Councillor Shaffer.
“I read in the paper the recent story of a concern that was raised on the time it took the police to respond to an incident,” said Councillor Dale Scott. “It’s relevant to this.”
Councillor Derek Stephens said, “I’ve been noticing on social media, talk about OPP traffic stops on Highway 17 in McKerrow and area, and people saying why isn’t this type of thing taking place on Manitoulin? But we have the same number of OPP officers on the Island as we always have and they are stopping traffic when it is warranted. With our own community police board these type of issues can be brought up, but we would be lost in a big board with Espanola-Manitoulin Island.”
“I am certainly in favour of having a separate police board for Manitoulin,” said Councillor Al Tribinevicius.
Councillor Scott asked if the policing board issue has already been decided on by the province.
“No, but the process has started,” said Councillor Shaffer. “I was involved in a meeting several months ago. I was at a table meeting with other municipal representatives with the solicitor general. I indicated we would be in favour of having one police board for Manitoulin Island.” He pointed out with the COVID-19 pandemic everything has been pushed back.
Council passed a motion in favour of the recommendation calling for Manitoulin to have its own policing board. Gore Bay town council had previously passed a similar motion.