Policing costs will continue to be a hot-button issue for the next batch of municipal councillors in Kenora.

In a recent Police Services Board meeting at City Hall, staff with the OPP provided an updated estimate on this year's policing costs – which are expected to hit $6.74 million - a $370,000 increase compared to 2021's rates. Last year’s costs ended up at $6.36 million.

This comes as the OPP reports an 8 per cent reduction in violent crimes year-to-date compared to 2021, a 3 per cent reduction in property crimes, but a 31 per cent increase in drug crimes. As well, motor vehicle collisions are up a staggering 79 per cent – mostly seen in crashes causing property damage.

Earlier this year, Kenora helped created a joint resolution with the Municipality of Sioux Lookout and the Municipality of Pickle Lake to advocate for support with their high policing costs – as they’re three of the six communities in Ontario who pay more than $600 per household in policing cost taxes.

At the time, Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard explained that about one out of every four municipal tax dollars in Kenora goes towards paying for the OPP’s services – which he said, wasn’t fair or equitable for tax-payers in the community.

Reynard noted the OPP’s billing model is based on a cost-per-property formula, but emergency responders in the Kenora district regularly serve a population that’s much larger than the size of the area’s tax-base, meaning the OPP charges the city extra for those calls.

Overall, Kenora residents paid an average of $832 per household in 2021 towards policing costs, while taxpayers paid $934 in Sioux Lookout and as high as $950 in Pickle Lake.

Across Ontario, the average property owner only pays about $300 per year for policing services. Since 2015, the three municipalities estimate that they’ve paid out over $30 million more than they should have for day-to-day OPP services, for about $4 million per year.

While Pickle Lake and Sioux Lookout are the only communities in Ontario to receive discounts from the province to help pay their policing bill – the City of Kenora has previously been denied the additional assistance.

It could have saved taxpayers about $2 million per year in 2021.