The United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) is moving closer to having an OPP-mandated Community Safety and Well-Being Plan developed for its municipalities.

According to the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the plans are intended to use holistic planning to identify priority risks to local safety that need to be addressed.

The development of the plans stems from the province recognizing that police are increasingly responding to non-criminal matters such as mental health emergencies and that proactive, rather than reactive measures are needed in order to properly address those situations.

At the June 12 Committee of the Whole meeting, UCPR Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Parisien recently met with Stephanie Gray, who has developed the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan for Lanark County.

It was originally estimated that developing the plan would cost each UCPR municipality $50,000.  Gray has offered to do the plan for all of the UCPR for $21,000.

Stephane Parisien recommended bypassing the regular procurement policy and hiring Gray to develop the plan over the next 18 months.

He noted the expense was not in the 2019 budget.

Warden Robert Kirby questioned if the money could somehow be found.

La Nation Mayor Francois St-Amour suggested each municipality pay its portion of the cost based on their property assessment amount.

Russell Township Mayor Pierre Leroux said the cost should be equally distributed among all eight municipalities.

St-Amour agreed that Leroux’s suggestion was also acceptable.

Forcing the federal hand on broadband

A formal motion to hire Gray to develop the Community Safety and Well-Being plan will go before UCPR council when it meets on June 26.

UCPR council wants the federal government to commit to supporting rural broadband expansion across the eastern section of Ontario.

On June 12, council held a special session and approved a resolution asking for the federal government to contribute $71 million towards the Eastern Ontario Regional Network’s Mobile Broadband Project.

On May 17, Ontario Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton announced that the provincial government would contribute $71 million.

The Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus (EOWC), which is composed of county wardens from across the eastern portion of the province, is contributing $10 million from its member municipalities, as well as separated municipalities that are not part of county governments.

The municipalities consider the matter to be urgent as the House of Commons rises at the end of June for the summer, and is unlikely to sit again until after the federal election in October.

“All that we’re missing is the federal government coming to the table,” said UCPR Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Parisien.

“This is an important project for all of us,” he added.

UCPR and the EOWC want a commitment from the federal government before the end of June.

Glengarry-Prescott and Russell Member of Parliament Francis Drouin will be notified about the resolution.