by Isabel Mosseler
It was a rocky road to the very end, but at the conclusion of the February 19th WN Council meeting, Mayor Joanne Savage officially signed the contract accepting the OPP offer to police the municipality. Savage herself voted against the motion to sign but was required to do so as head of council, after her members voted in a majority to confirm the former council’s decision to transition from the West Nipissing Police Service to the Ontario Provincial Police.
Though the initial decision had been made in December 2017 and deemed legal by a provincial court after a lengthy battle with the WN Police Services Board, there was still opposition to signing the contract until the very last. During the meeting, newly elected Councillor Lise Sénécal asked to defer the contract signing, as she felt there was still information missing, particularly over the costs of the temporary facility in Sturgeon Falls and the new OPP facility to be built in Cache Bay. Her motion for deferral was defeated and the signing was put to a recorded vote. Sénécal abstained from that vote on the grounds that she could not make an informed decision.
Mayor Savage and Coun. Denis Sénécal voted against signing, while Coun. Yvon Duhaime declared a conflict of interest and abstained. Councillors Chris Fisher, Rolly Larabie, Léo Malette, Dan Roveda and Jeremy Séguin all voted in favour of the contract, carrying the motion.
A presentation by the OPP was initially requested for the evening of February 19th, but council was informed that this step was not a part of the OPP protocol, that they would be available to respond to any operational issues once the draft plan was ready. CAO Jay Barbeau related that the usual procedure was to ratify the standard contract, to be followed by discussion on operational issues. “Last council approved the proposal, and we move forward based on that. I recognize that certain questions have not been answered to the satisfaction of all the community, that’s very clear, procedurally though the bylaw that was applied [December] 5, 2017 is an indication that the questions were answered to the satisfaction of this corporation moving forward… They are prepared to come back as part of the process, as part of their operation plan.”
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WN Mayor Joanne Savage relunctantly signs the service contract with the OPP, after voting against it Feb. 19.
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