Leadership with the City of Dryden is hoping to lower the community’s policing costs by $1.8 million each year to help cut costs for local households.
During this week’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Mayor Jack Harrison explained the city has a meeting with Solicitor General Michael Kerzner today to discuss a proposal to lower Dryden’s policing costs by roughly 35 per cent – or about $1.8 million each year until 2026.
“We are having a follow-up meeting [Today] regarding our request for policing cost relief. Our ask was $1.8 million each year over three years. Looking forward to the conversation,” said Harrison.
Harrison explains the city first met with the Solicitor General at the ROMA conference late last month.
The Rural Ontario Municipal Conference took place in Toronto as municipal officials met with members of the provincial and federal governments to discuss issues and concerns surrounding their home communities.
Mayor Harrison and Chief Administrative Officer Roger Nesbitt were Dryden’s delegation this year.
The city says as well as the Solicitor General, Dryden also met with the Ministry of Long-Term Care to address an ongoing need for seniors’ housing units and long-term care beds in the region.
“It was a very beneficial conference for us to attend. It was a good networking session with our local Mayors and Councils,” Harrison adds.
But policing costs have been a major concern for Council members – especially as Dryden’s in the first year of the OPP’s amalgamation and new contract.
As it is, Dryden’s 2023 Budgets call for $933,000 to be pulled from reserves to pay for the OPP’s extra costs this year, as well as upgrades at Aaron Park.
Transitioning to the OPP in 2022 cost Dryden about $8.5 million, after uniform, equipment, vehicle and detachment renovation costs. But the city is hoping to see savings from the transition by 2030 and 2037.
Per household, families paid about $1,200 in 2022 and are expected to pay nearly $1,400 in 2023 for policing. That’s over $1,000 per year above Ontario’s average price of $300.
The communities of Kenora, Pickle Lake and Sioux Lookout joined a coalition last year to lobby the province on lowering their policing costs – as the three pay some of the highest fees across the province.
Kenora pays $832, Sioux Lookout pays $934 and Pickle Lake pays upwards of $950 – all shy of Dryden’s costs. At this point, the City of Dryden has not joined the regional coalition.