OPP billing equitable

To the Editor

I would like to provide some clarifications with respect to your recent article “County drafts complaint on OPP billing” dated May 31 2016.

Under the previous OPP billing model that was introduced almost 17 years ago it inadvertently devolved into a system where municipalities were paying vastly different amounts for policing services. In fact some municipalities were paying less than $10 per year per household while others were paying more than $800. Under that old model the County of Haliburton Highlands was enjoying significantly lower than average policing costs in comparison to its other municipal counterparts in Ontario. It was among the lowest paying communities for policing in all of Ontario at an average annual per property cost of $138 (2014). That’s well under 50 cents per property a day for professional 24 hour policing services. Some of Haliburton Highlands’ neighbouring communities were not so fortunate and were among the highest paying communities in OPP policed areas. It was clear that the time had come to develop a billing model that was more equitable and transparent.

The OPP implemented the current billing model after the Ontario government consulted more than 200 municipalities municipal organizations such as Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and other stakeholders. Whereas the municipality of Minden Hills of the Haliburton County was a member of the AMO OPP Billing Model Committee one of the recommendations provided by the committee in their report dated April 10 2014 was to include seasonal properties in the billing model count and specifically the report said: “both seasonal and permanent homes require police protection and that police services are not a user-pay service the committee concluded that principally neither seasonal properties nor other types of properties such as commercial and industrial properties should be exempt from paying for base policing costs.”

Currently the annual estimated per property cost for Haliburton Highlands is $265. While this is clearly an increase from the previous billing costs it is still well below the OPP provincial per property average of $352 in 2016 and remains among the lowest costs for policing in all of Ontario including non-OPP policed municipalities.

The OPP has been providing policing services for well over a century in Ontario and to the people of Haliburton Highlands and takes pride in the results of the OPP’s most recent Community Satisfaction Survey rate at 95.6 per cent.

The OPP values the ongoing discussions and input around the value and cost of policing. I would also like to take the opportunity to ask that the readers get involved with their police service provide input where possible and look for collaborative and strategic solutions to improve community safety through crime prevention strategies and a keen interest in the long-term well-being of your community.

M.M. (Marc) Bedard
Municipal Policing Bureau OPP