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It seems that consensus is being reached among the regional municipalities to forego local policing. Instead, the communities will depend on the services of the Ontario Provincial Police, even if might be more expensive.

I agree with the decision, and I believe that investigating the alternatives was an important exercise. Without a clear idea of the costs and the implications it would have been an option that would have hung over the local municipalities. ‘Would we be better off with a local force? would it be cheaper? Well, maybe yes, and maybe no.’ It would have been a serious distraction to have left it hanging out there. At least the numbers and analysis have been completed and it seems there might be savings, there might not, but there was a guarantee of upfront investments, oversight requirements, and quite possibly headaches in the years to come.

I liken the situation to a person with a longer laneway who has benefited from their brother-in-law, a professional, plowing his snow for a well below market price, because well, he lives next-door and he wants to make sure his sister is able to get in and out safely. The brother-in-law moves away and the the husband finds out what it really costs to plow his laneway. His first thought is to get his own truck and blade. Yes, it would cost a bit upfront but it would save money in the long run. And it would be far more economical if he could defray his costs by plowing his neighbours’ laneways. He might need to take a loan, and there would be a need to store the equipment, repairs, the time to do the plowing, but by gosh he would be saving money.

Well, it might be cheaper if he can buy the equipment at a reasonable cost and his neighbours agree to participate. But he will now need to get up early and plow not only his snow, but that of his neighbours. And there probably won’t be a winter vacation, and …. And what if he finally decides he no longer wants to plow snow? How easy would it be to sell the equipment, and how much would he lose?

In the end I suspect that Township of Seguin Council and others realized there was more in the way of pain and liability than was offered by the potential savings. That was probably also the case with the other municipalities.

It needs to be remembered that the local municipalities were receiving below market pricing for their policing costs up until this year. It can be argued that the previous pricing was fair because these municipalities made limited use of policing services. That may be true, but it’s a little like health care coverage. Although I may not require the types of services that are used by many others I am still required to pay a similar amount in terms of federal and provincial taxes as those who do. It’s effectively an insurance plan and I consider myself fortunate that I only have to pay for coverage and not use the services. Going forward the OPP costs are now scaled to include basic ‘insurance’ and a ‘usage’ component. The less you require, the lower your policing bill. But there will always be a basic cost that is a function of your population. It’s like an automobile insurance policy with an annual premium and a deductible. Have too many accidents or tickets and your policy cost will go up. But even if you are a perfect and lucky driver you still will be paying more for your basic premium than you think is fair.

I take care of my own snow rather than use a service. The area is small, I can do a more careful job and at the same time protect the landscaping. I also have the time, and in the process get some exercise and save a few bucks. And I prefer to enjoy the snow rather than ‘get away’, so it all lines up. If I had a larger piece of property I would surely toy with the idea of getting bigger equipment, but I hope in the end I would make the right decision and hire a professional with the equipment to get the job done.

MetrolandMedia has good coverage of the policing issue at www.parrysound.com if you want to dig into the details.

Eyes Wide Open (Parry Sound in Colour)

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