Owen Sound city council has green-lighted the process to engage municipal neighbours in hopes of achieving a number of shared services.
Council approved a motion at its meeting on Monday night to instruct the mayor and staff to correspond with the councils and police boards of Hanover and West Grey, plus any other willing municipal partners, to discuss towards the creation of a Regional Police Force.
A second motion also passed to instruct the mayor and staff to negotiate with Meaford, Georgian Bluffs and Chatsworth towards the coordination of waste management and sources separated organic service contracts.
The motions note the pursuit of regionalized services is to find efficiencies and benefit for all parties.
Councillor Richard Thomas moved the motion relating to starting discussions with Hanover and West Grey about the creation of a regional police force.
"Looking at sharing services with other municipalities is one step we can take to preserve the level of service the community currently gets, but to help mitigate the costs," Thomas says. "There's always room to talk about how we can help one another. Because, at the end of the day, if it benefits all the taxpayers, who could argue with it?"
In a previous interview with Bayshore Broadcasting News, Hanover mayor Sue Paterson expressed interest in the concept of a regional police force and was open to talks. West Grey Mayor Christine Robinson said its municipal force was already looking at expansion options, but noted West Grey would certainly participate in the conservation if a service can be created that continues to as effective, impactful and cost-efficient for ratepayers.
According to 2018 budget documents, Owen Sound spent $7.3-million on police services last year, West Grey's cost was $3.3-million and Hanover paid $2.8-million.
The second motion passed at yesterday's meeting relating to entering negotiations with Chatsworth, Georgian Bluffs and Meaford for the pursuit of aligned waste management contracts and source separated organics services was introduced by Coun. Travis Dodd.
Dodd says the first priority in talks with municipal neighbours would be to try and align waste management contracts. Owen Sound, Meaford and Georgian Bluffs all deal with Miller Waste Systems.
Chatsworth, meanwhile, has two landfill sites in its township.
Owen Sound's waste management contract runs until 2023. This year, it's projected to cost just over $480,000.
"The end goal of this for the Owen Sound ratepayer is to hopefully have a better, more-efficient service," Dodd explains. "As well as a reduction on their taxes."