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Police Board to appoint citizen members to governance committee

The amended mandate of the governance committee will also include recruiting new board members and the new chief of police
Thunder Bay Police station

THUNDER BAY - Citizens from the community to be appointed to a Thunder Bay Police Services Board committee will have a say in recommending new board members and the new chief of police.

The Thunder Bay Police Services Board administrator passed a motion on Tuesday to amend the structure of the governance committee to include three community representatives, as well as amending its mandate to include the recruitment of new board members of the police chief.

The governance committee was formed in 2019 with a mandate of reviewing and developing policies for the Police Services Board, as recommended by Senator Murray Sinclair’s 2018 investigative report into the board on behalf of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

The motion came as a memorandum from board secretary John Hannam on behalf of Police Services Board administrator Malcom Mercer, who provided details of the amendments during Tuesday’s meeting.

“We only have a five-member board,” Hannam said. “To expect those five board members to populate all the committees we need, and there may be recommendations for other committees, so adding citizens to our committees gives us more resources to draw on. The governance committee in particular faces a long list of tasks around policy development and review.”

The Police Services Board is served by three other committees, including the new hire committee authorized to approve reports from the chief of police on new hiring of sworn and civilian members of the Police Service.

There is also a sponsorship committee and bargaining committee.

As Hannam stated, an expert panel appointed by the board to review issues relating to policing in the city may also come back with recommendations for additional committees.

The amendment to the governance committee will see three Police Services Board members and three civilian members appointed. Its mandate will also be amended to allow for the committee to recruit new board members and executive members of the police service including the chief and deputy chief.

“The other advantage of citizen appointees is they provide a community perspective and their own experience and expertise,” Hannam said.

Police Services Board member Bill Mauro, one of three existing members along with Shelby Ch’ng and Georjann Morriseau following the resignation of the majority of members earlier this year, expressed concerns about amending the governance committee mandate at this particular time.

“This is a decision that should be left to the next board,” he said. “I think we are at a point where this term of council is just about concluded and you will have a number of new appointments in the near future, certainly from the city side.”

Mauro added that there are also two provincial appointments on the board that remain vacant.

“From my perspective I would wait and leave it be,” he said.

Mercer said he understands Mauro’s concerns but added that the board has limited time and limited resources and the community relies on it for very important work.

“I respect the importance of the new board once it’s constituted and is able to make decisions and move forward and not improperly pre-empt that,” he said. “But right now, as the new board gets on its feet, it is more important to get some help and added perspective. We have matters in front of us that ought to have focus.”

Mauro expressed an additional concern that there will be unelected committee members who will be making weighty decisions such as selecting the new police of chief.

Chief Sylvie Hauth announced in June this year she would be retiring from the position in June 2023 and has since been suspended after it was announced she will be facing misconduct hearings under the Police Services Act. 

Hannam clarified that the citizen committee members would only have a vote at the committee level but not at the board level, which makes the final decision on hiring executive members of the service.

Mercer, who as administrator holds all voting rights of the Thunder Bay Police Services Board, said despite Mauro’s concerns, he feels the amendment to the governance committee is worth putting forward at this time and passed the motion.

“A new board fully constituted can make its own decision and change decisions with respect to structure,” he said. “However, I think there is great value in ensuring there is representation of perspective by the community served by the Police Services Board.”


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