Wingham policing meeting set for Feb. 26
BY DENNY SCOTT
After receiving extensive feedback, North Huron Township Council has scheduled another public meeting regarding the policing of Wingham.
While much of the feedback presented at council’s Feb. 5 meeting was in favour of keeping the Wingham Police Service for Wingham, some were from ratepayers outside of Wingham urging council to not consider expanding the Wingham service to East Wawanosh and/or Blyth.
Council is currently faced with three options: have the Wingham Police Service disbanded and replaced by the Ontario Provincial Police in Wingham which, after four years, could save approximately $200,000 per year over a 10 year period; maintain the status quo with the Wingham Police Service in Wingham and the OPP in Blyth and East Wawanosh or have East Wawanosh and Blyth policed by an expanded Wingham Police Service.
The Wingham Police Association, however, thinks Council should look to the OPP for service.
In its letter the association states that 17 years ago it pushed for disbanding the Wingham Police Service at amalgamation and it still supports such a stance.
The group believes that North Huron should be policed by one entity and believes the OPP presents the best opportunity for that.
“Of the three options it is quite clear from a financial standpoint that the OPP would be the suitable choice given their costing model is more accurate,” the report, penned by association President Mark Kirkby and Vice-President Murray Foxton said. “The council should be aware that the numbers presented for the options that involve the Wingham Police Service are quite ‘light’ as to what the association feels is required to continue to provide adequate and effective policing.”
The letter goes on to say the association is requesting “two officers on duty at all times, 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
“This alone would dramatically increase the forecasted budget [Chief Administrative Officer Dwayne Evans] has prepared for the next five years,” the report said.
Council, interested in allowing the public to speak regarding the revelations of the letter, has scheduled a public meeting regarding policing for Feb. 26 at the Wingham Town Hall Theatre, above council chambers.
Reeve Neil Vincent also commented that, in private conversations with “neighbouring municipality” representatives, some interest in buying police service from Wingham has been expressed. He said those discussions were preliminary and more information wasn’t available at the meeting.