On the ta­ble

Uni­fied polic­ing con­tract for east­ern Shelburne County be­ing dis­cussed

The Queens County Advance - - FRONT PAGE - KATHY JOHN­SON TRICOUNTY VAN­GUARD

Whether or not to pro­ceed with ex­plor­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a uni­fied RCMP polic­ing con­tract for east­ern Shelburne County will be on the ta­ble for dis­cus­sion when coun­cils for the towns of Shelburne and Lock­e­port and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Shelburne, meet in the next few weeks.

That was the con­sen­sus from a joint coun­cil meet­ing of the three units on March 14 in Shelburne, which was called at the re­quest of the Shelburne County East RCMP Ad­vi­sory Board.

“It is the com­mit­tee’s de­sire for lo­cal coun­cils to con­sider polic­ing op­tions as a po­ten­tial joint ser­vice be­tween the units,” wrote board chair Shel­don Ringer in the let­ter re­quest­ing the joint coun­cil meet­ing.

As it stands, each unit has its own polic­ing con­tract for RCMP ser­vices. Both Lock­e­port and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Shelburne have a pro­vin­cial polic­ing agree­ment, while the Town of Shelburne’s mu­nic­i­pal po­lice ser­vices con­tract is with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. The Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Shelburne pays just over $700,000 with 5.5 RCMP of­fi­cers al­lo­cated to their con­tract, said War­den Penny Smith, which rep­re­sents about nine per cent of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s over­all bud­get of $7.6 mil­lion. The Town of Lock­e­port pays just over $155,000 for the equiv­a­lent of one of­fi­cer at 40 hours a week, which is about 10 per cent of the town’s an­nual bud­get.

The Town of Shelburne has a mu­nic­i­pal polic­ing ser­vice agree­ment that goes back to the 1970s, said town CAO Dy­lan Heide.

“In that time our com­ple­ment of mem­bers un­der the agree­ment has not changed,” he said. There­fore the town, which now has a pop­u­la­tion of just over 1,700 peo­ple, is pay­ing the same costs it did when its pop­u­la­tion was around 3,000 peo­ple. Heide said the town pays for the ser­vices of four mem­bers, pro­vides an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to the de­tach­ment and shares in half of the sergeant’s po­si­tion for an an­nual cost of $736,000, or about 18 per cent of the town’s an­nual bud­get.

For the three east­ern Shelburne County units to have a shared polic­ing con­tract, all three units would have to agree to pur­sue the op­tion, which was the pur­pose of the meet­ing, said Shelburne Mayor Karen Mat­tatall.

“To me it makes com­mon sense to have one mu­nic­i­pal po­lice unit for east­ern Shelburne County,” said Shelburne coun­cil­lor Harold Locke. “I think it would end up sav­ing money and I don’t think it would end up cost­ing any unit more than what they are pay­ing now. It may save all three, it may save one or two. I would like to see what we can do to find out if there are any sav­ings to hav­ing one polic­ing con­tract. I’m will­ing to go ahead and in­ves­ti­gate.”

Lock­e­port Mayor Ge­orge Hard­ing said his town “is very in­ter­ested in shar­ing ser­vices” with their neigh­bours.

“We do see our­selves as a town but we also see our­selves as the re­gion of east­ern Shelburne County,” he said. “The whole idea of bound­aries, es­pe­cially with polic­ing ser­vices, there can­not be any bound­aries. They have to be wher­ever they have to be.”

To get the ball rolling on the pos­si­bil­ity of a joint polic­ing con­tract, it was agreed to take a rec­om­men­da­tion back to the next meet­ing of the re­spec­tive coun­cils that would di­rect mu­nic­i­pal and town staff to meet with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the po­ten­tial of a shared RCMP polic­ing con­tract.

“At least that would give us a start­ing place,” said Heide. Pro­vided each mu­nic­i­pal unit rat­i­fies the rec­om­men­da­tion, Heide es­ti­mated it would likely be May be­fore a meet­ing with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice would hap­pen.

The town of Shelburne has also been ex­plor­ing an al­ter­na­tive polic­ing pro­posal from the Bridge­wa­ter po­lice force that would present an­nual sav­ings to the town.

KATHY JOHN­SON

Shelburne town coun­cil­lor Harold Locke makes a point dur­ing the joint coun­cil meet­ing of the towns of Shelburne and Lock­e­port and the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Shelburne on March 14 in Shelburne.

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