OPP wants to keep St. Clair office; asks for $25k more

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Lambton’s municipalities are being asked to pony up to pay for the OPP to stay in St. Clair Township.

The OPP satellite detachment on Lyndoch St. is home to uniformed officers and the Community Street Crime Unit. Under a lease agreement that runs until 2026 the police board currently pays more than $90,000 a year in rent and around $16,000 in cleaning fees.

But in a letter sent to the township at the end of August the board says they “will not be able to continue paying rent to St. Clair Township at the present level” after 2020. The letter cites COVID-19 -related issues, including losses of $50-60,000 in revenue from criminal record checks now going to the provincial instead of municipal level, and increased cleaning costs.

It suggested St. Clair pick up the costs if it wanted the detachment to remain there.
But Mayor Steve Arnold pointed out the OPP sought out the building, asked the township to renovate it to their specifications and sign a 10 year lease in 2017. “It really came out of left field,” said Arnold at the time.

It seems the police services board has taken another look, sending a letter to municipalities saying the main OPP office in Petrolia can’t be expanded so “maintaining the St. Clair detachment office is recommended by the board.”

The letter, signed by the chair of the police board, says it will cost an additional $25,000 per month to keep the office.

And it asks the member municipalities to foot the bill. In Plympton-Wyoming for example, that will cost an extra $3,200 a month on top of its bill which already tops $1 million. Council will discuss the issue Wednesday.