By Chad Ingram
Published Aug. 2 2016
Haliburton County councillors will be sending a letter to OPP municipal policing bureau superintendent Marc Bedard taking issue with a recent letter to the editor Bedard sent to the Haliburton Echo .
In May Haliburton County lodged a complaint with Ontario’s ombudsman over the OPP billing formula the province introduced in 2015. County councillors contend the formula is flawed unfairly impacting cottage country communities since seasonal residences are weighted the same as year-round homes.
The collective OPP bill of the county’s four lower-tier townships is nearly doubling from approximately $3 million to approximately $6 million during the five-year phase-in of the formula.
“At the root of our concern with the new formula is the fact that base costs are allocated on a ‘per household’ basis that includes residential units farmlands on which a farm residence exists and seasonal dwelling units” the county’s submission. “In addition the formula takes into account fully occupied commercial and industrial business properties. We believe the calculation of households is systemically unfair for a number of reasons.”
The submission went on to discuss in detail the municipality’s concerns.
Weeks later a letter to the editor from Bedard was published in the Echo calling the formula equitable and in his words “clarifying” some details from a story on the correspondence to the ombudsman.
“The OPP has been providing policing services for well over a century in Ontario and to the people of Haliburton Highlands and takes pride in the results of the OPP’s most recent community satisfaction survey rate at 95.6 per cent” Bedard’s letter read.
Councillors took issue with what they said were factual inaccuracies in the letter as well as the implication the county is unhappy with the OPP’s service.
“I’m in favour of writing Mr. Bedard and informing him that never have we ever said anything about the OPP” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey. “This is about the formula. We’re not satisfied with the formula.”
Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen agreed.
“We don’t fight our battles in the newspaper but I was concerned about the inaccuracies in the letter and the fact that it makes it sound like we have an issue with the OPP themselves” Danielsen said.
Councillors reiterated the county is pleased with the service it receives from the OPP.
Both Fearrey and Algonquin Highlands Reeve and County Warden Carol Moffatt questioned the appropriateness of Bedard’s letter in the first place.
“I think it’s inappropriate first of all that he even wrote a letter” Fearrey said. “That’s just my opinion.”
“I think it was inappropriate” Moffatt said. “I’m not sure why a person of that stature in the organization felt the need to highjack our position which has never been as you’ve already said against the local officers.”