Leadership with the City of Dryden is still working to transition policing services from the Dryden Police Service to the Dryden OPP ahead of Spring 2022 when the change is expected to be made official.

“There’s a lot of work happening on that front, not just with City staff and the OPP, but with DPS members as well,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Roger Nesbitt, during a regular Council meeting.

''Councillors with the City of Dryden meet virtually during their monthly Council meeting.

Nesbitt explains that Dryden’s Senior Leadership Team has been meeting with the OPP weekly to discuss any issues regarding the transition, and work is continuing on a number of fronts. Dryden officially approved an amalgamation between the two services in July 2021.

That work includes plans for upgrades to the Dryden OPP detachment. The OPP has said the building off of Highway 17 does not have sufficient space to accommodate all of its new members and needs extensive interior and exterior upgrades.

The Dryden Police Service’s detachment on King Street is still not suitable as it does not pass the OPP’s risk assessment, as it’s located too close to the CP Rail tracks which carry hazardous materials.

Nesbitt notes that the application process for DPS members to apply to the OPP closed in mid-October. As a result, Nesbitt says 67 per cent of uniform DPS members applied to the OPP, while 57 per cent of civilian staff applied.

As well, Nesbitt says the OPP is not interested in taking over any of the DPS’ fleet of vehicles, but they are interested in re-purposing other equipment.

“They had a look at our inventory of vehicles and have determined that they won’t be of use to the OPP, but they have taken a look at some of our other equipment and they are interested in the potential purchase of some of our use of force equipment,” explained Nesbitt.

Record transition work between the two services is also underway and is expected to wrap up by the official transition date in February.

The City of Dryden’s Draft 2022 Operating Budget includes about $3.9 million in transitional costs related to the amalgamation of the Dryden Police Service and Dryden OPP.

The funds are broken down as:

- $1,100,000 in increased operating costs in 2021-2022
- $1,700,000 in disbandment costs, funded by the Legacy Reserve
- $711,000 in one-time OPP start-up costs, funded by the General Capital Reserve
- $400,000 in one-time OPP facility upgrades, funded by the Emergency Capital Reserve

When councillors voted down the OPP’s original offer 6-1 in May of 2019, they said while the OPP’s model projected an estimated $1 million in savings by year 5, or about 2025, the roughly $4.5 million in transitional, upfront costs would have been too difficult to accommodate, on top of a roughly $700,000 higher base cost compared to the DPS.

Statistics from Statistics Canada show that Dryden had the second-highest rate of criminal incidents per 100,000 population, compared to benchmark municipalities like those in the region and those similar in size to Dryden, and had the highest average annual growth rate in criminal incidents between 2015 and 2019.

Dryden also was shown to have the second-highest average policing cost at $488 per capita, well above Canada’s average of $410. That represents a cost of about $1,040 per property in Dryden, over tripling Ontario’s average of $311.