The high cost of policing has left some of our towns and cities in a tough position – it’s swallowing up a lot of tax dollars.

Many communities are considering whether to use the OPP or a locally-run municipal police force. 

But it's not an easy decision because the costs can vary wildly.

The OPP maintains a satellite office in Penetanguishene as an extension of the southern Georgian Bay detachment. But when Mayor Gerry Marshal saw the cost of the OPP service going up, he started looking at other policing options.

“Our options were to continue working with the OPP, see if we could get the costs down, get the contract changed,” he says. “We looked at a joint municipal force with Midland. We actually explored if we could bring the RCMP into town. We reached out to our neighbours to see if they wanted to do joint North Simcoe Police force.”

Marshall maintained Penetanguishene was paying more than its fair share and before long more than 100 mayors joined him and urged the province to rethink the way municipalities pay for policing. 

A working group made up of mayors, chief administrative officers, police, and government officials quickly established that cost comparisons should be done on a per household basis which revealed that policing costs for the OPP vary greatly across the province.

In 2013, Tiny Township paid $155 per household compared Parry Sound, which paid $759 per household. Caledon, Collingwood, Muskoka, Meaford, and Penetanguishene fall in between.

OPP Insp. Rick Philbin says the 324 communities served by the OPP will now share some costs evenly under a new cost recovery model.

“So anybody with costs below the $250-mark will see their costs rise,” he says. “Anybody above the $400 to $450-mark will see their costs come down.”

Phillbin estimates most communities will end up paying around $340 per household. That will be a major reduction for Penetanguishene but increases for Tiny Township and Muskoka.  Tiny's Mayor Ray Millar accepts the need for change but wants increases to be phased in over time.

“We would be looking at a $48-per-year increase for OPP over the next four years, so that fund would allow other municipalities to realize savings immediately and be a great assistance for us transitioning to the more realistic costs,” he says.

While some municipalities will see their cost for OPP service rise, statistics from 2012 show municipal police forces are twice as expensive on average. 

Policing Cost Breakdown Graphic

In Owen Sound, the city police cost $729 per household. In Shelburne that’s $789 and Innisfil's South Simcoe Police cost $655 per household.

Marshal says the numbers show municipal forces are not competitive and staying with the OPP will save his taxpayers. 

“It will wind up being $750,000 to $800,000 in savings depending how it works out over the next couple

When the new cost recovery is rolled in in 2015, the OPP will begin providing municipalities with quarterly reports that show exactly where their policing dollars are being used so communities can take a proactive role in reducing calls for service and the associated costs.