Stratford Police to replace OPP in Perth South

Ward system out for 2018 municipal election

By Bailey Lucas

Perth South Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to negotiate particulars on a five-year contract with Stratford Police Force, who will replace the Ontario Provincial Police in regards to law enforcement within the municipality. This follows a similar move made by the Town of St. Marys earlier this year.

For Perth South, which has seen continued reductions in funding from the provincial government, the cost savings anticipated by a switch from the OPP to Stratford Police were attractive from a budgetary standpoint.

Stratford Police Chief Mike Bellai’s report to Council dated May 23rd projected an annual cost to the municipality of $461,000 plus a one-time start-up fee of $86,000. The proposal included one new, dedicated police car for the township bearing the Perth South logo along with guaranteed coverage within the township on a full-time basis, with additional resources available from Stratford as need arises.

Meanwhile, Perth South is currently outlaying approximately $550,000 for the service provided by the OPP; a basic service that many within the township are not satisfied with.

Ward System Out

In a separate decision on Tuesday, Perth South Council voted to eliminate the Ward system for the 2018 elections. In recent years, Perth South Council has been comprised of the Mayor plus three councilors from each of Downie and Blanshard. Going forward, Perth South citizens will be able to vote for Mayor plus the six councilors which they feel are best suited for the position, without regard for geographical quotas.

In other Perth South news United Way Perth-Huron Director Ryan Erb gave a presentation to township council this week, in regards to how to best welcome newcomers to our rural county and help them transition to life in Canada. Surprisingly, Mr. Erb said that of all newcomers to Canada, only 5.8% are settling in rural areas. The challenge is to provide the right tools to help these families succeed and retain these families in the area.

Mr. Erb also discussed challenges that employers have had regarding newcomers. Some problems in Perth County include education gaps and limited access to “English As A Second Language” classes. However, it is important to note that Perth and Huron counties have made the benchmark in almost all categories measured in Mr. Erb’s presentation. This week’s informational session was a guide for how the Township can be even more welcoming and accommodating to the needs of newcomers to Canada and Perth County in the future.

Mr. Erb also pointed out some things that we as a community can do to help welcome our newcomers. He said that in his data collection survey of newcomers, most said we are “friendly, but not welcoming”. When asked to clarify his point, Mr. Erb says that most newcomers feel, as we are friendly in public, such as waving on the street or saying hello in the store, we fail to continue integrating the population into Perth County. Some suggestions for improving this would be to welcome newcomers into our homes, such as over for dinner, and inviting newcomers into various groups in the community to make them feel at home in Perth.

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