THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay's new city council has appointed Mayor Ken Boshcoff and Coun. Shelby Ch'ng to sit on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, while leaving a question mark hanging over its third, citizen appointee.
The new appointees join a board that’s been stripped of its decision-making powers, after the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) appointed outside administrator Malcolm Mercer to oversee the TBPSB in April due to internal dysfunction.
Mercer’s term was recently extended through March 30, 2023, though that date could be modified.
Thunder Bay's city council appoints three of the five members of the police services board, which oversees the Thunder Bay Police Service. That includes two councillors – typically including the mayor – and one citizen.
After discussing appointments earlier in a closed-door meeting, council voted on Tuesday to "proceed as directed in closed session" on the subject of a citizen appointee.
“It’s confidential, but we’re going to proceed as directed, and we will be making an announcement soon," said city manager Norm Gale in an interview following Tuesday's council meeting.
Gale would not confirm or deny if council had already appointed a citizen member in closed session, nor comment on whether council's decision had been influenced by legal advice.
“It’s an important appointment, and council’s being judicious, methodical, and responsible," he said.
The previous council had appointed Georjann Morriseau as its citizen nominee. The former Fort William First Nation chief has since filed multiple human rights complaints against the police board alleging harassment and discrimination.
Ch’ng continues her tenure after being appointed to the police services board earlier this year, when the majority of the police services board’s members resigned in protest of Mercer’s appointment, including Coun. Kristen Oliver, who had chaired the board.
Amid that scrutiny, the board will weigh a set of recommendations for drastic change to its governance from an independent expert panel it appointed earlier this year.
Those recommendations include adding significant First Nations representation to the board itself and adding a new arms-length Human Rights/Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Unit within the force.
The terms for all three city council appointees to the police services board last for the length of council's 2022-2026 term.