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Mayor Bondy appointed as Essex’s rep on amalgamated Police Services Board

December 8, 2023  By Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


Dec. 8, 2023, Essex County, Ont. – In preparation of the province amalgamating Police Services Boards, Essex Council appointed Mayor Sherry Bondy as its representative on the new regional Essex County Police Service Board (North). Members of Essex Council made this decision at the regular meeting on Monday evening. She is currently Chairperson of the Essex Police Services Board.

Currently, each of the five OPP policed municipalities in the region has its own Police Services Board. Through the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CSPA), the province has mandated the amalgamation of police service boards across the province.

In 2021, as the province looked at consolidating local police service boards, the five municipalities in Essex County that have contracted the OPP for police services requested two local police service boards, North and South, instead of one.

On Oct. 25, 2023, the Ministry of the Solicitor General sent a letter to all municipalities confirming that the Essex County OPP detachment board proposal has been approved by the Solicitor General to the next step in finalizing the board compositions, which is posting the composition on the Ontario Regulatory Registry (ORR).

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The Essex County Police Service Board (North) will include the Town of Tecumseh, Municipality of Lakeshore, and the Town of Essex, once the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CSPA) comes into force in 2024. The composition of this Board will include three council seats (one from each municipality), four community representatives, and two provincial appointment seats, for a total board of nine.

The Essex County Police Service Board (South) will include the Town of Kingsville, Municipality of Leamington, Pelee Township and Caldwell First Nation. The composition of the Board will include four council seats (one from each municipality), three community representatives, two provincial appointment seats, for a total board of nine.

In May of 2021, members of the Essex Police Services Board expressed support for a two-board system, over a one-board system, locally.

In January of that year, the OPP Detachment Board, representing the Essex County OPP policed municipalities in the Essex detachment, hired a consultant to put together a foresight report.

At the time, Essex Councillor Kim Verbeek, who sits on Essex’s Board, noted the report came forward with recommendations, following the provincial outlines for the new Act.

Verbeek noted then that it was voiced to the province that big boards would be a challenge to work with as there will be too many needs and concerns brought to one table from each involved municipality. As a result, the province noted that if the amalgamated Police Services Board was larger than 15 individuals, separate detachments could be considered. Essex County OPP policed communities, if merged into one board, would have more than 15 individuals, Verbeek explained.

Lakeshore conducted a separate plan, looking at the possibility of having two amalgamated police services boards in Essex County OPP policed communities, instead of one.

At a special meeting of the Essex Police Services Board in June of 2021, a split, majority vote voiced the desire to have Essex join the “North Police Services Board” for the Essex Detachment, with Lakeshore and Tecumseh.

Part of the reasoning to join the North Board was that there could be focus on Leamington on the South Board, with the municipality having many issues and needs regarding policing.

Shortly after, the previous Term of Essex Council hosted a special meeting on the matter. Ultimately, after a lot of questions and conversation about the Essex Police Services Board decision to join the North Board, if possible, the Previous Term of Essex Council voted to agree with that recommendation.

The Report to Council from Essex CAO Doug Sweet adds that once the new board is fully established, the Board will need to determine cost-sharing formulas between the three municipalities for expenses and remuneration for the new regional police service board.

Councillor Rodney Hammond questioned why Essex would be joined with Lakeshore and Tecumseh, when it shares County Road 50, Highway 3, and bike paths with Leamington and Kingsville. He opposed the motion.

Councillor Kim Verbeek has sat on the Essex Police Service Board for the past three-terms of council. She said she is looking forward to having a strong voice at the table on the new board. As there will only be a couple of provincial appointees, Verbeek urged Essex residents interested in possibly getting involved on the board to apply with the Ministry.

Sweet said there will be a delay in putting out the call for provincial appointees. In answering Deputy Mayor Rob Shepley’s question, Sweet explained the current Board will remain until it is dissolved and the new one becomes active.

– Essex Free Press


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