PSB chair clarifies OPP satellite closure in Penetanguishene

·2 min read

The sudden closure last week of the Penetanguishene satellite office managed by the Southern Georgian Bay detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police has caused enough concerns among residents, that the police service board chair spoke about it at the regular meeting of council.

As shared with council, police services board chair Brian Cummings spoke with Southern Georgian Bay interim detachment commander Staff Sgt. Derek Banks last week where several reasons for the closure were discussed with staffing being the most prominent.

Retirements, promotions and overall retention flow were some of the reasons, but other factors were also involved.

“All criminal records checks are now done exclusively online,” Cummings explained. “What that does is literally remove one person – one-point-four, in fact – from the position at the Southern Georgian Bay detachment.

“Some of the detachment and its administrative clerks have received a promotion or have moved on. So there were seven in total; now we’re down to a minimal amount, and there’s still vacation to be taken. There’s not enough spots; as in any business in town will tell you, they can’t get staff. We have a huge staff shortage.”

“DC Banks said it was a really hard decision to make, however it’s an operational decision and it’s not in our contract. It’s outside of our contract,” Cummings reiterated.

Cummings further shared that neither the contract nor the levels have changed, and officers will still be present in town with a guarantee from Banks that a greater presence will be coming over the next few months. Only administrative services will change with availability during regular business hours continuing at the Southern Georgian Bay OPP detachment location at 16864 Hwy. 12 in Midland.

Added Cummings, “I just wanted to make sure that everyone knows that this office – actually when we changed over to OPP way back when – the office was going to be closed at that time. Council of the day decided that they wanted to keep it open as a community office. However, staffing was not guaranteed by the OPP.

“They want to get back, and (Banks) says that he wants to get back into that office, but his hands are tied right now as far as staffing is concerned.”

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca