Mississauga May Lose a Police Station
There’s a bit of buzz around the Malton area of Mississauga these days. Some new parks recently opened there, one which resembles an imaginative medieval setting and another that builds on an existing park with an aviation viewing platform. The Malton Business Improvement Area (BIA) has been quite active in the last few years, and the idea of business becoming more integrated into the community fabric is giving Malton a new lease on life.
One of the examples of this kind of revitalization is at Westwood Mall. The last time I did a community neighbourhood walk in Malton with other Mississauga residents, the mall was renovated and new businesses and other amenities were moving in, as you can see from the image from the map below.
The Peel Regional Police set up a community police station in the mall as well, manned by three police officers. But the future of the Malton police station is uncertain after this past week, as Mississauga city councillors found out that the Peel Police Services Board (PSB) voted to close down the police station.
According to minutes submitted by police board member, Ward 10 Councillor Sue McFadden, the PSB reviewed its operational capacity as their lease was coming up, and were told by Chief Jennifer Evans of the cost savings that could come from the closure, which came to something like $15,000 in rent. McFadden also said that there should be a better allocation of resources, with the police officers better serving the community by going out patrolling Malton instead of just sitting in the office waiting for walk in traffic, which had averaged just three visits per day.
That drew a rather heated response from Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish, who represents Malton in Mississauga City Council.
“Nobody even had the courtesy to tell me the police station was being closed, and high rent is a stupid reason to close it,” said Parrish, saying that the mall owners had offered to waive the rental fee for the police station, and that other councillors who had community police stations closed down in their wards had the courtesy of a prior meeting. When Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson had the Streetsville police station close down, Parrish said he was extensively consulted.
Regarding the notion that the police officers were to be reallocated by sending them out into the wider Malton area, Parrish expressed concern that the officers may not be kept in Malton for the allocation and just relocated throughout the city. But that might be just as bad an idea; since the police station was installed at Westwood, Parrish says it has been a tremendous detriment for criminal activity in the area and has made people feel safer. The idea is if you know there is going to be a strong police presence in the area, the less likely people are to commit crimes.
The matter was also brought up by Parrish during Peel Regional Council the day after the Mississauga council meeting. There seemed to be some confusion as to whether the police station’s closure was brought up as a budget saving measure, because it came up during the PSB meeting at the same time as the police budget was being done. Peel Chair Frank Dale and Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey, who also sit on the PSB, attested that the closure proposal was not related to the budget.
Ultimately, Councillor Parrish’s main complaint was that she was not properly consulted, as she asked her colleague McFadden whether she and the other board members actually went into Malton to see how the police station was functioning, to which Councillor McFadden replied that she did and disputed that there was a lack of proper notification, saying she gave “a heads up” as soon as possible.
Putting aside disputes between city councillors, police and fire emergency services are two of the top areas of spending in municipal budgets, whether that is in Mississauga, Peel Region and beyond. There have been closures of localized police stations in Streetsville and Cooksville in the last couple of years, and this latest revelation regarding Malton is no exception.
Money is tight everywhere, especially in government. But what do you think should be the proper way to utilize Peel police officers? Should they be out patrolling the streets of Mississauga and Brampton, or should they be stationed in certain fixed headquarters in an area where people know where to find the police, or would be less likely to cause trouble if they see that there is a police presence?
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