ROMA meeting could yield reduction in policing costs for Kenora, Pickle Lake and Sioux Lookout

By Eric Shih
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Thunder Bay Source

The mayor of Sioux Lookout is still cautiously optimistic after meeting with the Solicitor General about policing costs.

The municipalities of Sioux Lookout, Kenora and Pickle Lake formed a coalition last year to collectively discuss reducing policing costs, claiming that the three communities paid disproportionately high rates for policing services.

Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance said the meetings this week with Solicitor General Michael Kerzner at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto went well.

“Following our initial meeting with the minister, the members were invited back to a follow up [private] meeting with the minister and a few trusted advisors,” he said.

“I think that [the follow up meeting] shows the degree of engagement that the minister has taken on.”

Lawrance said Kerzner clearly has heard them and is engaged and has committed to getting back to them in a matter of weeks.

“We’ve made it known we’re looking to get our policing costs normalized to pay more or less what a typical an average or median community. We’re not asking to be the lowest,” Lawrance said.

“We’re asking to be, after being among the highest few for a decade, we’d like to be in the middle of the pack.”

He said it’s the cost of calls per services where policing costs get prohibitive.

“Sioux Lookout’s] gross number is something like 10 or 11,000 calls for service. It works out to per property [to] about four calls per property per year,” he said.

Lawrance said all parties agreed to continue talking over the coming weeks.

“During that time, we’re hoping that we can find a temporary solution to our requests and then over the longer term, they’re saying next year, the ministry [will] work through the process of renewing the Community Policing Safety Act,” he said.