New Mayor Forum Formed

Updated November 12, 2015
On Friday, November 6, I joined twelve other heads of Council in the village of Cloyne (near Bon Echo Park) for the second meeting of the Rural Mayor’s Forum of Eastern Ontario. The Forum, which draws members from five counties, formed to collaborate, and to share experiences and best practices. 

The members discussed gaps in high-speed Internet coverage (some rural areas have very poor coverage), the high cost of the OPP, joint procurement and tendering, communications with upper tier governments, and economic development. The Forum settled on a mission statement, vision statement and set of objectives.

Two proposals came forward for purchase collaboration. Since we all have asset management plans, we can predict when we need to buy new trucks. We may obtain a lower price per unit by purchasing “in bulk.” Also, we all have an inventory of aging bridges. One idea was to jointly advertise bridge replacement tenders. Perhaps construction firms could find efficiencies (and reduce costs) if they secured contracts for several bridges in a geographic area in the same year. 

Two years ago, Mississippi Mills was one of the first to show how much each household pays for policing each year. Most municipalities still hide the high cost in the overall tax levy. Many Forum members plan to bring this idea before their respective councils. Since OPP costs began to spike, Ontario’s 450 municipalities have complained to the Province, to no avail. By showing taxpayers the true cost of policing, the Forum hopes that the chorus of concern will grow from hundreds of towns to millions of taxpayers.

The Forum will meet monthly, at least for the first six months. Each member takes a turn at hosting the gathering. 

Mission: To identify opportunities for collaboration to improve our operational effectiveness and long term sustainability.

Vision: To work closely with our stakeholders to coordinate our common goals.

  • Identify and implement partnering opportunities.
  • Identify and implement service sharing opportunities to effectively manage costs.
  • Develop strategies to work more collaboratively with government bodies.
  • Develop and implement a communications strategy.

The five counties are: Lanark, Renfrew, Hastings, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington. The member municipalities are: Hastings Highlands; Head Clara Maria; Brudnell, Lyndoc & Raglan; North Frontenac; Central Frontenac; Addington Highlands; Horton; Madawaska Valley; Greater Madawaska; Mississippi Mills; McNabb Braeside; Lanark Highlands; Tay Valley; Arnprior.


Dan Coates said...

Thanks Shaun for keeping us informed! An excellent initiative that fits in well with the commitment of the new federal government to seek joint planning and action with other levels of gov't.

Chris Saunders said...

I have looked a number of times at the cost of policing in MM versus the services provided by the OPP. Not that I am against the OPP, they do a fine job, but I think that there is a less expensive alternative with equal, better or more "MM-centric" service. I think that you should look at the cost of policing and some of the alternatives that similar sized Ontario rural towns utilize. I think that a small MM police force (maybe shared with one other local township) would be more affordable and allow us to control our own policing costs rather then be held hostage as to what the OPP charges without any ability to control it as ratepayers or elected officials for that matter.

Shaun J. McLaughlin said...

Carleton Place and Perth both had a separate police force but closed them down in recent years because costs were too high. The cost for radio equipment, a headquarters, training, police cars and wages are astronomical. The rural mayor's forum suggests that many duties handled by expensive police constables be handed to civilians. This could include ticketing. It could include having social workers, not police, deal with mental health issues where violence is not an issue. That is a huge part of the cost of service the OPP downloads to taxpayers.

Chris Saunders said...

Mayor McLaughlin,

I could not find the article on your Facebook here, so I am posting this in this thread, albeit not the correct one. My apologies as I am not on Facebook and cannot comment there.

These are tough times for the sitting Council, that being said I think you guys are doing an excellent job in managing a truly difficult situation, trying to fill the void left by Bernard.

Having studied political science and worked in the field both domestic and foreign, I would suggest that secret ballots (or ballots in camera) by elected officials is a bad idea. There is too much room for abuse (and for that matter history of abuse in an number of governments). Hence why I suspect the Act does not allow it. I think that your choice to appoint someone and the open process you are doing is a good one and will serve us well until the next election. Stand behind your selection publicly, that is our expectation of the elected officials.

I would use caution in throwing your support behind Rickie Minnelli and ask you to also look at Garry Dalgity (if he puts his name into the hat). Despite running against you as Mayor, Garry has been an excellent representative of the citizens and issues here and did not acquire a police dossier while sitting as a Councilor, unlike Rickie.

Good luck. Pick well!

Chris Saunders

PS: Thanks for your reply on policing. I still would study a second (non-OPP) model including some of the suggestions you have proposed like alternative service delivery (non-peace officer) for service areas not required by the police act.