Apr 08, 2015

Detachment commander explains operational changes – not costs

“There isn't much that I can do about the cost of policing, except come here and be a messenger,” said Inspector Patrick Finnegan, the Detachment Commander of the Napanee Detachment (with responsibility for the Kaladar satellite detachment) to Addington Highlands Council at a meeting on Tuesday, April 7.

“I guess that's why you carry ...” said Councilor Bill Cox.

“Right, that's why I carry a gun,” said Finnegan.

Staff Sergeant Greg MacLellan accompanied Finnegan to the meeting, which came about in response to a letter from Reeve Hogg that raised issues about the status of the Kaladar detachment.

Finnegan confirmed that the administrative position at Kaladar has been transferred to Napanee, and that there is no longer a sergeant (community officer) assigned to Kaladar.

He explained both decisions.

In the case of the administrative/clerk position, he said that although it was good public relations to have the office open to the public, there were fewer than 10 visits from the public per week, and the most sought after service, criminal record checks, is about to be outsourced to a private company and will no longer be handled by the OPP.

As well, as the result of some high profile events last year, particularly the attacks on Parliament Hill, the OPP has instituted new policies about security at police detachment offices.

“The buildings are to be closed to the public unless there is an armed officer in attendance,” said Finnegan, “so if a clerk was housed in Kaladar they would not be able to serve the public 80% of the time, while officers are out in the field.”

The advantages of moving the position to the Napanee headquarters to join with other administrative staff are numerous in terms of efficiency, Finnegan added.

So when the long-serving staff member at Kaladar retired, the position was moved.

“Until the background check system changes, we are working with the township to see if at least the intake can be done here at the township office,” he added.

As far as a sergeant being assigned to head the Kaladar detachment, Finnegan said it was a good idea in principle, but never worked that well in practice. By utilising the sergeants under his command throughout the range of the Napanee detachment, which Finnegan said will likely have a name change to the L&A Detachment in the near future, he said he would be able to have two sergeants working at all times, which would improve supervision across the entire detachment. In the end this will bring benefits to Addington Highlands.

“We will be able to send a sergeant to Addington Highlands to oversee our efforts in serious cases, such as a sudden death or a domestic assault, no matter when the call comes in,” he said.

New technology that is coming in, including GPS technology which will track the location of OPP vehicles at all times, is intended to bring in a “service that is not confined by any boundaries” he said. “The closest office to a call will be sent to that call.”

The Kaladar detachment will continue to be staffed by officers who will report to Kaladar at the beginning of their shift, as always.

“Policing a large, sparsely populated area is different from policing a smaller, densely populated area, and we are working on doing both well. If there are issues that come up, I encourage the reeve and council to contact me immediately so I can address them,” he concluded.

URCA Housing

Linda Hume, the long-serving board chair of URCA Housing, a not-for-profit corporation based in Flinton, came to Council this week for two reasons. One was to seek a bit of support from the township, and, as part of a campaign to raise the profile of the organization, the second reason was to make sure the new Council is aware of what URCA does and how it operates.

The first thing that she did was to explain URCA's name.

URCA was formed in the late 1980s to address a need for rent-geared-to-income housing for senior citizens. In order to be eligible for government funding the organisation needed a community-based organization to sponsor a building project.

“The organization in Flinton that sponsored us were the three churches. That is where we got our name ... U for the United Church, RC for Roman Catholic and A for Anglican,” she said.

URCA was also required to build rent-geared-to- income units for families as well as the seniors' units, and that is why they operate eight seniors' apartments and eight family units.

The good news about URCA's operations was delivered by Larry Pick, the part-time property manager who oversees the buildings. Between the rent paid by tenants and the limited operating dollars they receive, URCA has been able to maintain a small operating surplus and has a limited amount of money in reserves for capital needs.

“We have put new roofs on the buildings in recent years and have replaced about half the furnaces,” said Pick.

The less good news, according the Linda Hume, is that the public profile of URCA is low, as is community support, and it is difficult to maintain a board of directors.

“A number of our board members have served for a long time and would like to retire from the board, but if we cannot get new people on the board we may have to make some major decisions,” she said.

To have the URCA properties run by a service manager out of Napanee would make it "harder to maintain the 'curb appeal' and would be more difficult to manage," Hume said.

She asked Council to help URCA generate more interest in the community. She then made two requests. First she asked if Council could pass on information that comes to the township about social and affordable housing, including information about grants. Secondly she asked for the use of the basement of the township hall for the URCA Annual General Meeting in June, rent free.

Deputy Reeve Helen Yanch said that since she is now sitting on the housing committee at the County she would make sure the URCA Board is aware of what is happening on that level. Council also approved the use of the township hall for free for the URCA Annual General Meeting.

Isaacs hits a nerve

Paul Isaacs delivered a submission to Council that was sparked by a meeting with a senior in the township who is facing a particularly difficult time making ends meet, a situation that is made more worse by the fact that the man and his wife are not “in the best of health” in Isaacs' words, and they had to deal with frozen pipes this winter.

“Council has an obligation to provide public presence to address these difficulties, whatever they may be, of its constituents,” Isaacs said.

But it was in the final paragraph of his submission, where he said “Council has no initiatives in place with respect to seniors. Council is showing no interest at all in its most vulnerable constituents” that Isaacs sparked a response from Councilor Tony Fritsch.

“I don't agree with that statement at all,” said Fritsch. “Not only do we make our halls available for seniors programming for free, we support Land O'Lakes Community Services with an annual grant; we support the Family health Team both in Northbrook and in Denbigh. Our fire chief keeps a list of vulnerable people in the township, so we know who to check in with first in case of an emergency. To say we 'show no interest' in vulnerable people is unfair.”

Reeve Hogg said the township's budget is always tight and if taxes were raised it would hit the vulnerable population the most.

“I'm not sure what you expect us to do,” he said to Isaacs.

“It could be a simple as writing a letter,” Isaacs responded.

“Who should we write a letter to?” asked Hogg.

“Ok, here is an example. Statistics Canada does not count food or fuel costs when they calculate inflation, but those are the costs that hit seniors on fixed incomes that only increase by the rate of inflation the most. You could write a letter to Statistics Canada.”

(Editor's note – a search of the Statistics Canada website indicated that food and heating costs, including electricity, propane and fuel, are included in the “basket of goods and services" used to calculate increases in the Consumer Price Index.)

Public meeting tonight re proposed wind project

A public meeting is set for tonight, April 9, at the Community Hall in Denbigh at 6:30 pm, to discuss a proposed wind project. Members of Council will be in attendance to hear public comment, and a representative from the proponent, NextEra Energy, will be on hand as well.

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.