Penetanguishene mayor demands answers from Ontario gov't over CNCC policing costs
Frustration is mounting in Penetanguishene as the cost to operate the Central North Correctional Centre (CNCC) skyrockets, and the province looks to the town to foot the bill.
Penetanguishene's mayor sent a letter to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones looking for answers from the province following the government's decision to discontinue funding for policing costs at the superjail.
In the letter, Mayor Doug Leroux expressed disappointment and frustration with the Solicitor General, stating that the province wouldn't commit to a more in-depth meeting to discuss the matter further despite making several attempts.
Leroux said he feels the 9,000 residents of Penetanguishene "are of little interest to the province of Ontario."
The letter states, aside from a letter from Jones' office on Sept. 17, the two sides only spoke for "10 minutes" at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference on Aug. 16 and again during a "short zoom meeting."
"May I be so blunt as to ask, what will it take to find more than 10 minutes to discuss this very important issue?" Leroux asked.
According to a release from the town, the loss of provincial funding for policing costs at the facility will come with the hefty price tag of $373,952 for the upcoming 2022 year.
This translates to a property tax hike of 3.3 per cent or, on average, $87 for each of its 4,269 properties.
"This increase fails to factor in the cost of delivering roads infrastructure, fire services, streetlights, public works services, or any other services funded by local property taxes," noted Leroux.
The town said it has no intentions of dropping the issue and will "hold the province fully accountable" to an agreement with the government for 20 years.
A spokesperson from the office of the Solicitor General says the adjustment brings CNCC and the town of Pentanaguishene "in-line with the remaining 23 provincial correctional facilities in Ontario."
They also says staff with the Ministry of the Solicitor General have been in contact with the town for several months regaring the policing cost concerns.
"As a result of this dialogue, we understand that the municipality has agreed to switch to a “Calls for Service” billing model for policing, which will save taxpayers’ dollars as compared to the billing model that would otherwise take effect in 2022. Additionally, our ministry is providing interim funding up until 2022 in order to support the municipality in the transition," states the office.
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