MANITOULIN – With the concept and future of the Community Policing Advisory Committee under current review by the province and the amalgamation of the Espanola and Manitoulin OPP detachments into one super detachment, a number of alarm bells have been going off in municipal circles as to the potential form any police advisory committee might take.
A motion passed by the Manitoulin Municipal Association has entered into the fray to provide a united Island front when it comes to the composition that any subsequent board might take.
Current practice has been to align one committee with each OPP detachment and until the amalgamation of the two detachments, each Island municipality has had a representative on the Island CPAC committee.
CPAC committees provide an opportunity for the municipalities, which pay the bulk of the freight on policing costs since those costs were downloaded onto the property tax bills by the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris in the 1990s, to voice their concerns directly to the detachment commander.
The MMA entertained, and passed, a motion of support for a Central Manitoulin call for two police services boards for the Manitoulin OPP detachment and that one of those boards be made up in its entirety by Manitoulin Island representatives. The Central Manitoulin motion referenced the “very large geographical area” covered by the new detachment boundaries and the fact that Manitoulin is “physically divided by a bridge” and that the “traffic volume on Manitoulin Island primarily services our local area and a large tourist population.” The motion also referenced “many differences in composition of our communities whereby a separate police board may be more effective in establishing local objectives and priorities.”
“There is a big difference in the policing requirements of the two areas,” said Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens.
Mayor Al MacNevin noted that both the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities have been lobbying the provincial government on the issue and added that even within the current system, the OPP has been attempting to download some additional costs onto the municipalities.
“We could support what Central Manitoulin is saying,” he said.
The motion passed without dissent.