Wednesday, May 22, 2024

OPP Grey Bruce Detachment Joint Board Formed

After five years of discussions and planning, the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, which replaces the former Police Services Act of 1990, was proclaimed in early April. A major part of the transition is the formation of regional detachment boards, with the Grey Bruce OPP Detachment Board being officially ratified by local councils this month.

At their Monday, April 15 meeting, Meaford Council received a comprehensive report focused on the new board.

Following five years of discussions, feedback sessions, and transitionary planning, the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, will be proclaimed on April 1, 2024. Following the proclamation, the Grey Bruce OPP Detachment Board will be formed, resulting in a broader, community-based approach, founded in the pillars of equity, diversity, and inclusion,” noted Meaford’s interim CAO Matt Smith in his report to council. “Following communications and feedback sessions, held over the course of 2020 and 2021, the collective communities of the Grey Bruce OPP Detachment area submitted a proposal to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, proposing creation of the Grey Bruce OPP Detachment Police Services Board. Each participating Council reviewed the proposed composition and provided their authorization prior to submission of the proposal.”

The new board will consist of 16 members, nine of which will be elected representatives from the seven municipalities and two First Nations communities which the board will serve, along with three provincial representatives, and four community members.

The four community members to serve on the board for its initial term will be Michelle Reynolds, Township of Georgian Bluffs, Karl Ellis, Township of Southgate, Gerry Solursh, Township of Northern Bruce Peninsula, and Nicole Martin, Municipality of Grey Highlands.

During discussion of the new board at Meaford council’s April 15 meeting, Councillor Brandon Forder noted that there were no applications submitted by Meaford residents for service on the board. Seveteen applications from across the nine communities to be served by the board were received for the four community member positions.

While there won’t be a citizen representative from Meaford serving on the new board in its first term, Councillor Tony Bell, Meaford’s council representative on the board, informed council that he had been selected to chair the board for its first term.

On the initial March 12 meeting of those members who have been appointed to be on this newly formed police services board, those who were gathered pointed to myself, and made me the chair of that board for the first go around, which took me by surprise,” Bell told council.

While the Municipality of Meaford allocated $5,000 in the 2024 budget to facilitate transition to the Joint Board structure, the initial draft operating budget for the board indicates an estimated annual cost for each of the nine municipalities of nearly $10,000. The $87,000 draft budget includes the proposed cost of a shared part-time staff member to assist the board at $40,500, $24,000 for finance and administration costs, along with $10,500 for per diems, and $3,500 for mileage.

To fully comprehend the scope of work associated with the Joint Board, we must first consider and understand the shift in the province’s approach to policing, via proclamation of the CSPA. While the former Police Services Board structure and Section 10 and 5.1 OPP contracts focused on an individual, municipal scope of policing, the CSPA highlights and requires all detachment communities to operate on a broader scale – approaching policing as a community, over an individual. Through prioritizing pillars of diversity, equity and inclusion, and provision of ongoing education and training opportunities, the CSPA lays the foundation for a greater, more diversified policing portfolio, province-wide,” Interim CAO Matt Smith noted in his report to council.

With the changes to the OPP billing structure, and the pending elimination of the former contract system, the Municipality of Meaford opted to not renew their contract, and has been operating without a contract with the OPP since 2014, which at the time saved the municipality a reported $200,000 in 2014. The OPP had expected to have their billing model revised by 2015, however the process took longer than expected.

Upon notification of the April 1, 2024 proclamation date of the CSPA, the collective communities of the Grey Bruce Detachment Joint Board have been meeting to discuss, plan, and prepare procedures for observance upon transition to the Joint Board structure. A sub-committee of representatives from the larger area, including Southgate, Georgian Bluffs, Grey Highlands, and South Bruce Peninsula have been meeting most regularly on behalf of the detachment area, herein known as the ‘Implementation Team’,” Smith wrote in his report to council. “Administration of a board this size, made up of 16 people, with the importance of the work assigned to the Board, will be a challenge for any participating community.”

Grey County has offered its council chambers for the board to hold its meetings.

The full 14-page report to council outlining details of the new joint board can be found on the municipal website (meaford.ca).

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