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by Isabel Mosseler

The town’s police costing exercise is eliciting much attention and commenting in the community, and on November 22 residents had the opportunity to ask questions during a public forum at the SF Complex. In addition to the 94 people attending, others watched the televised session at home, and a video subsequently posted to YouTube garnered a further 305 views. 

The public forum commenced with a 10-year financial projection presented by municipal treasurer Alisa Craddock, showing cost savings over time with the OPP. Those projections are available for public review at the municipal website, and were outlined in the Tribune’s Nov. 15 issue.

On the panel to answer questions for the OPP were Sgt Kelly Withrow, a contract analyst with the government of Ontario, Staff Sgt. Liane Spong and Sgt. Gilbert Cadieux of the OPP’s municipal policing bureau, Acting Inspector Laura Houliston, OPP detachment commander for Northeast Regional Headquarters in North Bay, and Inspector Baldassare Nuccio, who has extensive experience working with various northern Ontario detachments. Answering questions for the West Nipissing Police Service (WNPS) were Chief R.J. “Chuck” Seguin and chair of the WN Police Services Board, Barry Bertrand, while Alisa Craddock and Stephan Poulin, director of Community Services, answered for the municipality.

Audience member Dan Roveda pointed out that those in attendance were primarily from Sturgeon Falls, and suggested that there was a split in the community with those outside the main core preferring the services of the OPP while those in the central core might have bias towards the WNPS.

Mike Lalonde of Evansville questioned the cost of the new facilities proposed as well as the projected savings. “Once [the new facilities] are paid for it’s going to need renovations again… We had a costing before, they went back with another costing and it’s $700K less… I don’t see how that can happen.” Spong explained that the OPP established a new costing model in 2015 to address inequities across the province, so that the base rate per household has been stabilized around $198. Prior to that, it was revealed, some municipalities were paying $6 per year per household while others were over $900. In addition to the base rate, municipalities are charged on a call-for-service basis – limited to reactive calls. Activities which are part of provincial services (eg. RIDE programs, property checks, business checks, etc.) are not billed back to the municipality. “One of the benefits is that the costs are shared across the province …it provides stability to cost… Calls billed are based on a 4-year average so there are no spikes,” Spong added.

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The OPP Costing public forum at the Marcel Noel Hall on November 22, attended by 94 people, was broadcast live by Franco-Cité students and uploaded to YouTube for public viewing. In screenshot are Acting Inspector Laura Houliston and Inspector Baldassare Nuccio, OPP, answering questions posed to them by the public. The full video can be accessed through the municipal website.

Public weighs pros and cons of OPP vs. WN Police, as decision nears