Tbnewswatch Local News
Wednesday July 1 2015
12:51 AM EDT
2014-08-15 at 17:05

New OPP costing model has some communities nervous

tbnewswatch.com file photograph
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

A new costing model for providing OPP services to municipalities has some northern communities worried.

The province is introducing the new costing formula over a five year period starting in January of next year to more evenly distribute costs among municipalities. The current model has municipalities paying anywhere between $10 per property per year to more than $1,000.

The new model will bring the base cost of OPP service down to $203 per household per year, which is 60 per cent of the bill. The other 40 per cent will be based on the number of calls per service.

That’s what has Pickle Lake Mayor Roy Hoffman worried as the community has the highest number of calls for service per officer. In 2013, they had 389 calls per officer and Hoffman attributes those to alcohol and substance abuse issues.

“If 40 per cent of the cost of this new funding is going to be based on call volume, we’re in trouble,” he said Friday morning.

In 2005, Pickle Lake was paying $2,179 per household for OPP services, the highest in the province. Hoffman said a few years of lobbying resulted in the government covering 85 per cent of those costs, but that still left the taxpayers with a $380 per household bill every year.

“We’re a town of 400 people. We’re relatively isolated. The nearest town is Sioux Lookout, which is 250 kilometres away so we can’t share our police service with anybody,” said Hoffman, adding Pickle Lake has a detachment of about eight officers.

“It’s just 400 people cannot afford to pay that. Whatever funding model the province comes up with, which I’m applauding because it’s about time of these people started paying for the OPP, but no matter what model they come up with will not work for Pickle.”

“No matter what they do, they’re still going to have to come up with something different for us,” Hoffman said. “I hate to say we’re a special case, but we are. We’re a unique situation.”

Hoffman understands there is a price for policing and he says they’ve been told the province won’t charge Pickle Lake for alcohol-related calls, but there’s no official deal in place.

That’s what Hoffman hopes to clear up when he meets with Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi next week during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s annual conference.

“We would like some assurances from the government and it would be nice to get some assurances in writing,” said Hoffman.

And while he says the OPP shouldn’t be dealing with the community’s social problems, there is no other option.

“Bottom line is up in Pickle Lake, we have no hospital. We have no counselling services. We have nothing, so the OPP – and I feel sorry for them – they are the only ones that have to deal with this,” he said.

“On the other hand, the bill comes to us on the local taxpayers, that’s not right either. This is a huge issue.”
Sioux Lookout Mayor Dennis Leney is also concerned about the new costing model and is hoping to discuss it with provincial leaders at the AMO conference.

The community currently pays $1,300 per household, a price that is nearly unmanageable for the municipality, especially since its tax base is mostly residential.

With similar social issues to Pickle Lake, Leney is also worried about the 40 per cent of the bill that will be based on calls for service, but he does believe a more consistent cost system is needed.

“It’s always been my thing that I don’t care if you live in Gravenhurst, Ont., or Barrie or Simcoe or wherever, if you get OPP policing, it shouldn’t be any different than what we have in Sioux Lookout,” he told Northwest Newsweek.

But it’s not all bad news for the north as the town of Atikokan is expecting their costs to decrease.

Mayor Dennis Brown said they pay about $1,000 per property for OPP services and the high cost has been an issue for a couple of years now.

“It’s not that we’re dissatisfied with the policing. We appreciate and we are very satisfied with the service the OPP is providing, but the cost is just too high,” he said.

“When we see what we’re paying compared to other municipalities across Ontario, it just doesn’t seem fair.”
Brown didn’t know what the exact new cost should be, but he hopes the cost drops by at least 50 per cent.

“That’s good news for the town of Atikokan,” he said.

Of the 324 municipalities in Ontario that use the services of the OPP, 207 will see an increase and 115 will see a decrease in costs.

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RicknB says:
Crime is getting worse because the services aren't there.
The problems with addiction only get downloaded to bigger cities (Thunder Bay) when people are forced to move out of their communities.

More mental health services are needed in these communities, how about build more treatment centres, how about one or two just for Opioid specific treatment.
Lets be ready for them when they need help. Do you know it takes up to 2-3 months to get someone into a treatment centre. Imagine if your ready to get help and then your told you have to wait.
Bet ya this works.
8/18/2014 9:24:10 AM
Marak says:
Seems more fair to me. If I choose to live in a crime ridden city, then I should pay more! If I move to a small quiet town, then why should I pay for policing to offset the cost of crime in different town? Might force some cities to do more than just "talk" about crime prevention!
8/16/2014 10:15:26 AM
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caseyjones says:
It's nice that the costs are going to be shared more equally across all the communities that the OPP serve. I've been listening for years to people complain about the high cost of policing. Over the last decade and more, police have become much more than law enforcement officers. With the cuts to mental health services across the province, the police are the ones dealing with the fallout. On top of the large percentage of police calls that involve alcohol, there is a high number of mental health related calls. As social service funding decreases, police workload increases. If the government were to put more funding into mental health services, police workload would decrease, saving all communities money.
8/15/2014 9:22:48 PM
Dudebro says:
Yup, take a look at who "most" of those OPP calls were for in both Pickle Lake and Sioux, and then compare that with the type of calls for Atikokan. Read between the lines.
There's a much bigger problem here.
Most people won't admit it, but believe me - they know what 90% of the police calls are all about in these two communities.
Nothing is going to change until people start taking better responsibility for themselves and quit blaming others for their lifestyles.

Just let the cost of policing go - forget it. Don't pay the bill and then someone else will "have to" pick it up.
I for one am sick and tired of having to pick up the tab for a generation of invalids that just can't get it together. And I know I'm not alone with this kind of statement.
Pile it on, but the majority of people who take control of their lives and do something worth while instead of living in the past see this problem for what it is. And that's the truth.

8/15/2014 6:36:07 PM
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scott says:
Police salaries and their golden benefit plans have to come back down to reality or they will bankrupt many of these municipalities.
8/15/2014 6:33:22 PM
tbay2005 says:
Police salaries have to come down?! Please, just be happy we have people willing to still become police officers with the way things are going around here and not want to take away pay from those officers for what they probably aren't getting paid enough to do as it is! Typical, blame the cops for making too much when the problem is the addicts that cause calls that these officers have to respond to. Cut back on the scum criminals, make them serve time that they deserve, take them off the streets and the cost of policing will go down as well.
8/17/2014 10:36:04 AM
brandon says:
Yes, they need to come down, and there will still be huge amounts of applicants.

Heck, look just over the border: city cops in the US often earn a fraction of what sleepy ol' thunder bay cops earn, yet in some areas deal with more in a week than a thunder bay cop would in a career.
They are overpaid in canada. Not that we don't appreciate them; its just that we are being bankrupted by them.
8/17/2014 7:50:30 PM
enos012 says:
If this is what they are doing, than just start sending people the bills, who make the calls but if the criminal is caught have them pay.
8/15/2014 5:36:05 PM
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ThunderBayFullOfCrime says:
"In 2013, they had 389 calls per officer and Hoffman attributes those to alcohol and substance abuse issues."

In a town of 400 people? That's a ridiculous amount of calls for that size population.

Perhaps they need to find some treatments for the people in Pickle Lake so they can get help. The OPP is not fixing things obviously.
8/15/2014 5:24:12 PM
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