Gore Bay council votes against police committee amalgamation with areas beyond Manitoulin Island

GORE BAY – Gore Bay town council agrees with the LaCloche Foothills Municipal Association that there should be two policing advisory groups within the Manitoulin-Espanola Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) detachment area. This would allow for the continuation of the Manitoulin Community Policing Advisory Committee (CPAC). As had been reported previously, the province would like to have OPP boards set up regionally.

“It appears they (province) are working towards amalgamating boards in regional areas,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne at a Gore Bay council meeting last week. 

“If we were to amalgamate with Espanola or the North Shore the Island could be forgotten, we could lose our voice and input,” said Councillor Patricia Bailey. 

“How would amalgamation be a benefit,” stated Councillor Kevin Woestenenk.

“If there were, say, nine representatives on an amalgamated board, we wouldn’t have the current voice for Manitoulin that we have now, and have input with policing,” said Mayor Osborne. “Is that our position, that we are opposed to amalgamating?”

“Yes,” said Councillor Bailey, who pointed out the next Manitoulin CPAC meeting will take place in September.

Council passed a motion to this effect.

At its meeting council also reviewed a letter from Vern Gorham, mayor of Baldwin Township on behalf of the LaCloche Foothills Municipal Association, to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, dated May 20, 2020. “We are writing to advise of our intention to request more than one OPP detachment board for our local detachment known as the Manitoulin-Espanola OPP.” 

“The Manitoulin-Espanola OPP detachment covers a very large geographical area and operates as separate zones within the detachment and is physically divided by a bridge that connects Manitoulin Island to the area,” wrote Mr. Gorham. “Along with the geographic separation, there are also many other differences in the composition of our communities whereby a separate police board may be more effective in establishing local objectives and prioritization of certain issues. The LFMAarea encompasses more than 60 kilometres of Trans-Canada Highway 17 which sees a significant volume of traffic, where the traffic volume on Manitoulin is primarily servicing their local area only.” He pointed out the LaCloche Foothills area includes two significant industrial businesses, there is also a railway servicing these businesses and runs throughout our communities which is a significant difference from Manitoulin to the south which has no railway. This area has also become the shopping centre and service hub for the entire detachment area, including big box stores, chain stores, a shopping mall and busy truck stops, restaurants and drive throughs.”

“The two zones service distinct social and economical segments of our local detachment area, while Manitoulin’s primary resources are more towards tourism and agriculture and the LaCloche/Espanola area is more of a commercial nature,” wrote Mayor Gorham. “In consideration of our differences, it is expected that potential board members from Manitoulin may not be versed in some of the issues faced along the north shore and vice versa. It is also recognized that there are also many similarities common to our communities, within our schools and among our senior populations; therefore, we would also recommend cross representation between an Espanola board and a Manitoulin board. While the exact make up of the board has yet to be decided upon between our communities, we felt it necessary to provide you with our considerations thus far.”