Shifting winds, then and now

Former councillor Louise Severson speaks to city council's finance, administration and operations committee on Wednesday.

As I point out in my column on Wednesday's OPP costing decision, I now believe my previous post on this subject will turn out to be only half right.

Unless I am missing something, or some new development knocks things on a different course between now and April 23, it seems likely city council will go ahead and ask for the costing. While doing this, councillors will also emphasize they are not for disbanding the city police force, only for getting a number.

As I note in the column, I also believe they will ultimately vote against the switch to the OPP, nearly two years from now, perhaps after the next election.

The prevailing wind on council seems to have shifted toward the idea that no decision will seem final unless we have that number from the OPP. What this means is, as Prescott Mayor Brett Todd has pointed out, we had better brace for a long and divisive debate.

Speaking of shifting winds, Citizens Offering Police Support (COPS) chairwoman Louise Severson came to Wednesday's meeting with a different U-turn in mind.

In her presentation arguing against the costing, she quoted a column apparently written  by Mayor David Henderson, "a few years ago," in a different publication. In it, the mayor supposedly argues in favour of a regional police force and against an OPP contract, because OPP costs are rising and the provincial force is guaranteed to be the highest paid in Ontario for the near term.

There's nothing wrong with changing your mind, of course. And when he introduced his OPP costing motion, the mayor did say he had changed his opinion when he realized the costing itself did not cost anything.

What's ironic is that, in the end, I believe the decision to stick with the municipal force will be driven, perhaps, by a sense of identity and community ownership of the Brockville Police -- but decided by those very things Henderson supposedly wrote about a few years ago: high OPP salaries and rising provincial costs.