Assiginack demands more details from OPP on staffing concerns and plans for current detachment offices

MANITOWANING—Assiginack council passed a resolution at its last regular meeting regarding a lack of communication from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) regarding the new Little Current detachment and the fate of the old offices.

The resolution reads, “Whereas the realignment of the OPP Manitoulin and Espanola Detachments has been finalized and the new OPP detachment office will be built in Little Current; and whereas the Manitoulin and Espanola Area municipalities have received very little information on the realignment in terms of service delivery changes and the fate of existing OPP buildings; and whereas Assiginack council has concerns and unanswered questions regarding this realignment and a responsibility for the safety of our ratepayers and those that pass through our municipality; therefore be it resolved that the council of the Corporation of the Township of Assiginack requests that Manitoulin-Espanola OPP Staff Sergeant Kevin Webb attend a meeting of council for the purpose of explaining the changes that can be expected by Manitoulin-Espanola area municipalities regarding OPP service delivery and the future use of existing OPP buildings.”

There was much discussion from mayor and council on what will become of the other OPP detachments once the new Little Current detachment is built.

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“I don’t think you’re going to get an answer on the buildings,” said Councillor Hugh Moggy.

Councillor Brenda Reid said she felt it odd that the OPP, or Infrastructure Ontario, “would go ahead and make plans to have a new building, but not have plans for the old ones. They know,” she said matter-of-factly.

Councillor Leslie Fields reminded her fellow members of council that it is the municipality that is paying the OPP wages and not having a dialogue with the OPP about the Island detachments “isn’t right.”

“There’s a lot of things that worry me about this new way of doing business,” Councillor Fields added. “And I’m worried about the level of service we’re receiving.”

The councillor then said she had heard that, due to the numbers of officers on sick leave or light duty, that Island-wide coverage is spotty at best.

“We are entitled to this information,” she said. “That’s a lot of money to be paying for not knowing where the money is going.”

When contacted by The Expositor, Staff Sgt. Webb said he had yet to be contacted to attend a meeting with Assiginack council, but said he is available “to any municipalities when required.”

“All of our municipalities are represented at the Community Policing Advisory Committee, which meets bi-monthly to address any policing issues,” the staff sergeant added. “No concerns regarding staffing or service delivery have been brought to my attention and the level of satisfaction in service delivery has been positive from all committee members.” 

Staff Sgt. Webb did not comment on Councillor Fields’ concerns regarding the current Island OPP coverage.