Petrolia has hired a retired OPP officer with experience in conflict resolution to be the town’s next bylaw enforcement.
In July, town council ended its contract with the Municipal Enforcement Unit. Officials at the time said they wanted a “friendly” approach to bylaw enforcement.
Retiring OPP Sgt. Kerry Bedard was sworn in as the new bylaw officer Monday night after council approved his appointment in camera before the meeting.
The 52-year-old has worked as a police officer in the Sarnia region, including working in the OPP office in Petrolia in the traffic unit.
Most recently, Bedard has worked in crisis negotiation all over the province. “I have special training in conflict mediation,” Bedard told The Independent following Monday’s council meeting adding he was called in to help during the negotiations during the Caledonia land dispute several years ago.
Bedard admits it won’t be the same as policing but he will be able to use the skills he learned while policing. “There are no bylaws that are life-threatening,” he says.
“I’m a big believer in relationships, develop relationship so communications take place,” Bedard told council. “If you deal with the odd individual that doesn’t comply my OPP background can come into effect.
“The first step is going to be through communications.”
Meantime former bylaw enforcement officer Bill Menzies contacted The Independent saying the town used an exit clause in his contract to get out of the three-year-deal. He says he was offended by recent comments that bylaw enforcement had been heavy-handed in the community adding he has not had any other complaints from the communities which MEU provides enforcement.