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OPINION: Capital region needs shared policing

 

Ray Murphy

Guest Opinion

Businessman says Charlottetown, Stratford, Cornwall make up a manageable geographic area for a capital region police force that would benefit taxpayers of all three communities

After reading Premier Dennis King’s first mandate letters to his ministers, I feel compelled to share some thoughts about our growing capital region.

First, I must commend the recent strides made towards a more collaborative approach to governing from different levels of government. There’s a growing appreciation among lawmakers that even though there are several levels of government, at the end of the day, there is only one taxpayer to fund all of their programs and services.

That really makes it prudent for governments to partner and collaborate where possible, and provide quality public services through the efficient use of hard-earned tax dollars. There are many examples that can be pointed to where governments have partnered through common interest, benefiting the public.

The public transit system that serves the capital region is made possible through the cooperation of three municipal governments, the provincial government, the federal government, and of course, the operator. Less than 15 years after transit service began, we are seeing new records set for daily ridership along with all of the social, economic and environmental benefits that come from public transit use – fewer carbon emissions and more social and economic mobility.

The communities of Charlottetown and Stratford, the province and the federal government are collaborating on upgrades to sewage and wastewater infrastructure that will better protect our environment, spur economic growth and enable needed investments in public and private housing. A project that many said would never happen, but it is.

Recently, we saw the mayors of Charlottetown, Cornwall and Stratford unite on an issue of common interest to call on the next federal government to return Prince Edward Island to a single zone for employment insurance (EI).

The provincial election this spring has added to the spirit of collaboration with the election of a minority government under the leadership of Premier King. We are seeing a new approach to governing at the provincial level with a greater collaborative spirit than Islanders have been used to.

This creates the climate for further collaboration to benefit Islanders. An area I would encourage elected officials to look at is shared delivery of police services. With the capital region being less than one-hundred square kilometres between Charlottetown, Stratford and Cornwall, it provides a manageable geographic area for a capital region police force to provide a community-based model of policing that would be a benefit to taxpayers of all three communities.

For being the fastest growing community in P.E.I. and the second fastest in the Atlantic Provinces, I feel that Stratford is under-policed. It requires highly visible and quick response policing, and we deserve full and regular police protection. As a long-time resident of Stratford who has also operated a business there for 33 years and in Cornwall for 15 years, I am well aware of, and can attest to, the need for increased police presence around the clock in these communities.

Protection is critical; however, crime prevention through education is equally important. Stratford and Cornwall need regular outreach and engagement of our youth – by police and in our schools, such as Glen Stewart and East Wiltshire.

Along with the benefit of improved service, residents would also see financial savings through the shared cost of police services between all three communities. This would be a positive development for the taxpayers of Charlottetown, Cornwall and Stratford, and one that I believe merits further consideration by civic leaders.

Now is the time.

Ray Murphy is a business owner and resident of Stratford.

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