By Dryden Observer Staff
After years of debate on the issue, The City of Dryden is taking steps forward to investigate a cost proposal from the Ontario Provincial Police to provide local policing.
The matter came before Dryden City Council at Monday’s regular meeting along with several delegations who wished to register opinions on the matter.
Initially planning to vote on whether to proceed with obtaining the OPP costing in a May 23 special meeting, that meeting has now been postponed into June.
Long time advocates of the hot-button local issue, residents Peter and Brian Burns appeared as a delegation to lend their support to an idea they’ve championed through successive city councils.
Members of the Dryden Police Association, president Scott Silver and Ann Tkachyk as well as Dryden Police Service Board Chair Judi Green also appeared as delegations in opposition of the plan.
Silver says talk of the OPP costing has had a negative effect on morale at the Dryden Police Service.
“There is no guarantee that our members will keep their jobs,” said Silver. “Mr. Remillard (Dryden CAO) told us last week the OPP told him they will take officers in ‘good standing’. What does that mean?”
With most communities in the OPP costing process waiting two years to obtain the information, Silver went on to say that the uncertainty over DPS’ future will create obstacles to recruiting and possible departures.
“In the meantime, with the OPP costing issue up in the air, it may force some of police service employees to look for employment elsewhere before a possible lay off to secure more permanent employment and income for themselves and their families.”
In a press release last week, the city outlined the reasons for their interest in the costing.
“This request is being made entirely for financial considerations. This initiative is in no way a reflection of the quality of service currently being provided by the Dryden Police Service, nor does it question the skills, abilities and professionalism of the dedicated men and women serving our community.”
Citing high levels of debt, infrastructure renewal needs of $9 million annually, reductions to tax revenue and the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) and rising hydro costs — significant cost reduction efforts are required.
“Council recognizes that this will be a time of uncertainty for many people and we will make sure that communication lines remain open and that we are available to answer questions and receive input,” read the statement.