Doing the Research on an OPP Alternative

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Since taking office in November 2016, and before that during the 2014 campaign, I have been told that, at times, our current police service can feel inadequate. After sending the Ontario Provincial Police a number of questions aimed at determining the service Middlesex Centre is provided in exchange for $2+ million per year, and having several discussions with residents and business owners, I came to the conclusion that Middlesex Centre should evaluate our alternatives.

This Wednesday, I’m introducing a notice of motion that seeks to do the homework on evaluating alternatives to the OPP. This motion does not seek to replace the OPP right away, but rather to do the homework needed to figure out whether an alternative would be suitable.

Dr. Jeff King, an area resident and former police officer, has a delegation this Wednesday where he will present a proposal to be considered as part of the evaluation, should the motion pass. He is confident a more effective, more affordable alternative can be formed, and this is his chance for Council to ask him questions.

I encourage you to read the attached material, and provide any feedback you have. Thank you!

Q&A with OPP

1. How many staff (enforcement and administrative) total are located at the stations that primarily serve Middlesex Centre? I imagine this includes Strathroy, Lucan, and possibly Western Region HQ.

Middlesex County OPP has a complement of approximately 90 civilian and sworn members, working from four reporting locations; Strathroy, London, Lucan and Glencoe.

The OPP uses an integrated service delivery model at detachments whereby municipal policing services are provided to contract and non-contract municipalities, while provincial policing commitments are also being met, e.g. policing provincial highways, unorganized territories, etc. Municipalities benefit from the integrated service model as it provides the OPP with enhanced flexibility in meeting fluctuating and changing policing demands and at a lower cost than having one detachment service each municipality. This provides the OPP with enhanced flexibility to meet a variety of operational demands at a lower cost by leveraging economies of scale. Officers in detachments are not assigned specifically as a municipal or provincial officer. The OPP uses a time and activity electronic tracking system referred to as the Daily Activity Reporting (DAR) system, to capture staff data. The system tracks detailed records which include time, work locations, and activities.

2. How many officers are employed at the stations that primarily serve Middlesex Centre?

See answer to question #1

3. Are routine patrols conducted in Middlesex Centre, and with what frequency? (e.g. daily, every other day, once a week, etc.)

The OPP recognizes that random patrol and non-strategic enforcement are not efficient usages of our limited police resources. Focused Patrol is a detachment-based initiative aimed to identify community traffic and crime ‘hot spots’, enabling the organization to better reduce crime and victimization.

4. What areas do routine patrols typically cover? (e.g. Komoka, Ilderton, Ten Mile Rd, etc.)

Patrols cover all areas of a municipality, however enhanced patrols, specifically Focused Patrols are directed to a specific area/issue. See answer to question 5 for a further explanation.

5. What is the difference between a routine patrol and an enhanced patrol?

Focused Patrol is an efficiency-oriented initiative that demonstrates the OPP’s commitment to organizational accountability, crime/traffic reduction targets and aims for the reduction in future calls for service. Through data analysis or complaint driven, officers are directed by their supervisor/detachment commander a specific focus (type of crime/traffic), location (“hotspot”), time of day/night and duration. These seven criteria are required in order to meet the parameters of Focused Patrol:

a) Directed by supervisor/detachment commander
b) Specific focus provided
c) Specific location
d) Time
e) Duration of patrol
f) Number of members involved
g) Specific tracking and reporting requirements met

6. More specifically, what was enhanced about the patrol that recently apprehended two suspects in Kilworth whom are alleged to have been conducting thefts?

Middlesex Centre, and more specifically Kilworth and Komoka experienced significant increases in property crime in the month of August. In addition, officers were being informed that some thefts from vehicles were not being reported. Analysis indicated that the thefts were occurring between midnight and 04:00 hrs so a Focused Patrol was initiated to address this problem.

Twenty officers conducted 106 hours of foot and vehicle patrol from midnight to 4 am from Sept 1st until mid-November. October and November stats indicate that property crime has decreased by 22% from the same period in 2016.

At least 3 parties were identified and charged for property theft from this initiative.

7. How often do OPP officers set up “speed traps” in Middlesex Centre?

Traffic safety initiatives occur daily within Middlesex County, throughout all municipalities served by the OPP. Traffic safety initiatives are not strictly limited to Enforcement, rather Education and Engagement are also employed to make our roadways safe.

8. How successful, in terms of tickets and fines issued, are these “speed traps?”

Traffic enforcement is one of a number of methods used to change driver behaviour to make our roadways safe.

9. How many calls do the OPP respond to on a weekly, monthly, and annual basis in Middlesex Centre?

Over the three year period of 2014-2016 Middlesex Centre experienced an average of 1995 calls per year. Only slight variances in the numbers were observed from year to year and 2017 also remains fairly consistent.

To date (Nov 25) Middlesex Centre has had 1742 calls and if we predict the annual total based on the current year we can anticipate approximately 1937 calls which is a 2.9% decrease from the three year average.

  • Average monthly calls in 2017 were 161, while the 3 year average is slightly higher at 166.
  • Average weekly calls in 2017 were 37 while the 3 year average came to 38.

10. How many calls result in criminal charges being pressed against individuals?

Detailed information on current charge data is not available but I have included information which indicates charges laid per occurrence. The number of charges and number of charged parties is not detailed.

Number of Occurrences where charges were laid

Year – Criminal Code – Provincial Offences
2017 – 168 – 158
2016 – 176 – 182
2015 – 150 – 145

2018 Water and Wastewater Rates

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I’ve been engaging with Middlesex Centre residents in a Facebook group where the current state of water and wastewater rates are discussed. As promised to them, I provided an update on the current trajectory for 2018 as a result of the ongoing budget process.

As you may recall, I made a motion at Council earlier this year to have the ramifications of a 2.5%, 5%, and 10% reduction of the minimum water and wastewater rates studied. BMA Consulting did this work on behalf of the municipality, along with looking at a number of other issues, and the results are being presented at the next Council meeting. You can find the report here (PDF format).

I’m rather disappointed in the incredibly narrow interpretation of “ramifications” by BMA. I was hoping to see something akin to “If minimum monthly charges are reduced by 2.5%, the usage charge would have to increase by X amount to make up for the shortfall.” Alas, that did not occur. I will raise that concern, and others, next Wednesday.

On a positive note, despite BMA’s conclusion that a rate freeze would result in a reduction of $22,147 going into reserve funds (reserves that would then be used in 2019 to pay for capital projects), staff is recommending another rate freeze. You can find the staff report and recommendation here (PDF format).

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter after reviewing BMA’s report and the staff report. I won’t be glued to the computer all weekend, but I promise I will check in a few times.

Middlesex Centre Council Recap: May – Jun 2017

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May 2017

  • Middlesex Centre received full scope accreditation for their management of municipal water and wastewater systems! 😀
  • Quite coincidentally, after much teeth gnashing over an alleged “raise” for the Director of Public Works & Engineering appearing on 2016’s Sunshine List, staff brought forth a new Compensation Management policy designed to curb costs and still ensure municipal staff receive the benefits their due.
    • The new policy prevents staff from being provided both time in lieu and overtime.
    • Time in lieu is offered to employees, and especially department heads, because they attend Council meetings in addition to working a full day, and those Council meetings can last upwards of four hours when there are public meetings to conduct.
    • The new policy prevents municipal employees from being paid out for unused time in lieu.
    • This was the source of the majority of the extra funds paid out to the Director of PWE, as he has not been unable to use the time in lieu given the extra duties that have been under his purview. As roles are filled, he will be able to take the time off he is owed.
  • The overwhelming majority of residents, and prospective residents, of the Komoka Glen subdivision asked for help in either preventing, or modifying, the noise wall that’s supposed to be erected prior to the subdivision being assumed by the municipality.
    • I met with a few of the residents prior to their delegation at Council to hear them out. I agree that the current noise wall plans don’t make any sense, and at the Council meeting we directed staff to contact the appropriate rail authorities to determine whether alterations can be made, and how to go about that.
  • We found out that Herm’s Sport Exchange is going to stick around at the Wellness Centre for another year, now that we’ve brought the Komoka Kings Junior ‘B’ hockey team to the Wellness Centre.

June 2017

  • We voted to adopt a new reserve and reserve fund policy that further spells out under which conditions funds can be withdrawn, transferred, and so on. If you’re interesting in this sort of thing, it’s worth a read.
  • My motion to have staff report back on possible traffic calming measures for Westbrook Drive failed, however it was largely because the work would likely have taken 18 months to complete.
    • That’s because the municipality doesn’t have any policies or design standards around traffic calming measures, and therefore those would have had to have been created first.
    • Despite the motion failing, staff are taking the issue seriously and are conducting their own investigations. We had a speed monitor out on Westbrook Drive the next day, collecting data. And there is a pilot program taking place with traffic calming measures being deployed in some trouble areas to see how well they work.
  • Our auditor reported that our financials looked healthy, and everything was in order. You can review the 2016 Draft Financial Statements here.
  • We voted to execute the agreement with the Komoka Kings Junior ‘B’ hockey team, bringing the organization to the Komoka Wellness Centre for the next 10 years. I’m looking forward to seeing the home games on Saturday nights!
  • We voted to execute the site plan agreement for Glendon Drive Developments, allowed them to start requesting building permits for the new commercial plaza at Glendon Drive and Tunks Lane, across the street from the Wellness Centre.
    • Settling the matter also required with withdrawal of the OMB appeal, which happened in early July.
  • We also approved a video surveillance policy, limiting the storage of any video captured to five days, as recommend by the Canadian privacy commissioner. This will impact any existing video surveillance already in use, like at water and wastewater infrastructure points, and the Wellness Centre.

It was a busy two months, which also included a lot of surplus residence severances on agricultural properties across the municipality. As always, if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them!

Middlesex Centre Council Recap: Feb – Apr 2017

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February 2017

  • In late February, my motion to join the group of municipalities asking the TVDSB to install automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in all schools across the board was passed.

March 2017

  • After careful deliberation and consideration of the consequences of the maintaining the status quo or a change, Council voted to continue to allow municipal staff to serve as volunteer firefighters, as long as their supervisor determines it won’t interfere with their normal responsibilities.
    • We often get a big response on calls, so I’m confident this won’t impact services or the number of firefighters that respond.
  • We had successful grant applications come back from the federal government to help Middlesex Centre improve the Ilderton Rail Trail, and the Ilderton Skate Park.
  • The design for the new Ilderton Wastewater Treatment Facility began.

April 2017

  • Middlesex Centre approved the initial steps of turning the old senior citizens’ home at Gideon Dr and Brigham Rd into a self-storage facility. The drawings looked pretty nice, and the owner of the property seemed eager to work with people that live nearby to minimize disruption of any kind.

I will return tomorrow with updates for May and June 2017.

A Response to ItStinks.ca

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Alright, let’s start this off with some quick points:

  • The information photographed at itstinks.ca was provided to all parties on May 17.
  • There is no backroom deal. In fact, there’s no deal at all yet.
  • The paragraph photographed is a proposal by Tridon, which is being submitted to the OMB Thursday (along with proposals from any other parties).
  • We have approval from the Ministry of Natural Resources to build the force main between the months of October and March.

Now that we got what is, likely, the most important issues out of the way, let’s dive a bit deeper.

The folks behind itstinks.ca, and I will say I’m quite confident it’s not the Ratepayers Association – who does that leave? 🤔 – is full of baseless accusations that have no legs to stand on.

This “secret deal” is nothing but a proposal put forth by Tridon, forwarded to all parties to this OMB hearing (Middlesex Centre, Komoka-Kilworth Ratepayers Association, and Southwinds Development), back on May 17. So, think for a minute: why did this website domain only get registered yesterday? How long would you sit on information like this if you wanted to drum up a baseless smear campaign?

This proposal is likely being put forth as a contingency plan, on the part of Tridon, in case Southwinds can’t come to an agreement with MXC, and also in case Southwinds can’t complete the draft plan approval conditions. If you were a business owner, and were relying on someone else getting a contract in place before you could start building something, wouldn’t you put together a backup plan?

“But Derek,” you might be thinking, “I was assured at [insert meeting/date] that no more homes would be connected to the existing wastewater treatment facility.” Yes, a fair point. And I would respond by saying that even if Tridon gets this option into their final agreement, they would still need to apply to the municipality to ask to connect those new homes to the existing wastewater treatment facility. And when you consider OPA 28 states no more development is allowed to connect to it, I would state that Tridon would have a heck of a time moving forward with that option, regardless of what the proposal they’re filing on Thursday with the OMB says.

And on that note, I will mention that further proof there is no backroom deal struck is that the hearing is still going forward, as scheduled, on Thursday. No one has been left out of the loop, though the people behind itstinks.ca would like you to think otherwise. Sorry, but it just isn’t true.

Let’s recap:

  • There is no deal at this point.
  • Middlesex Centre has not agreed to allow 1,000 new homes connect to the existing wastewater treatment facility.
  • What you’re looking at in that photo is a proposal provided to all parties to this OMB hearing almost a month ago.
  • Any calls from the people behind this website to address the issue “this summer” is being willfully ignorant of when the force main is allowed to be built. The force main, and resulting pumping station, will connect Kilworth’s wastewater infrastructure to the Komoka treatment plant.

Now, think to yourself, out of the parties to this hearing: who would have the most to gain by putting out this almost slanderous text? Who’s threatened Derek that they would go to the press before (not Tridon or KKRPA) just a day before a Council meeting where they had delegation status? Who’s hired a consultant from Toronto to help put together statements like this? 🤔

I have had enough of this sort of mud throwing. When I was appointed to Council in November I thought we could discuss these things as adults. Instead, one party has chosen to resort to schoolyard tactics.

What I can assure you is that all the parties to this OMB hearing, especially Middlesex Centre staff and Council, want to see all these issues addressed and settled so that we can move forward. I’m still very confident that the other parties believe these issues can be addressed and settled in 2017, as well. In fact, the folks at Southwinds were bringing in dump trucks upon dump trucks full of dirt back on April 27, 2017, and bulldozers can be seen filling in the gravel pit with said dirt even today.

I’ll be attending as much of the OMB hearing as I can beginning Thursday. I will provide what updates I can at the time.

I’m going to try and get a recap of the biggest decisions to happen since February up soon, too.