Normally, the OPP quarterly crime reports for Tay Township are simple presentations, but they rarely follow on the heels of a shooting.
In the first regular meeting of council since last month’s homicide in Victoria Harbour, Southern Georgian Bay OPP Insp. Todd Pittman provided an update on the second quarter crime statistics within the municipality and region.
At the section for violent crimes, Pittman briefly spoke about the investigation to council.
“I think it’s drawn a lot of community attention, and rightfully so,” said Pittman. “There was a lot of community concern about safety. I can’t actually comment on the investigations themselves as they are ongoing – in referring to the shootings.”
To the public, Pittman said: “I can reassure you that we are doing everything, and exhausting every available investigative avenue, to bring those responsible to justice. I want to reassure you that I’ve directed increased visibility in the community in direct response to these, and I want the community members to feel safe and know that we are in town, and we are there for you.
“We care very much about community. We – as the OPP, for the vast majority of us – live in these communities; we are residents as well. We want the same thing that everybody does. We want our streets to be safe, our communities to be safe, our children to be safe, and we are committed to making that happen.”
Mayor Ted Walker thanked Pittman for notifying him when the incident happened, and thanked him and fellow officers for promptly securing the area.
“I think it made people feel a lot better to see the OPP coverage that day and for your additional coverage now which I think has helped; some people were quite anxious about the whole situation," Walker noted.
Walker also praised Tay staff for their part during the event.
“We did have a day camp that was close by that we had to deal with, so the day camp staff and our general staff just being there when the parents came was, I think, a nice gesture and made everyone feel better."
Between April to June, clearance rates for violent crime in 2023 went from 65.2% in 2022 down to 64.3% in the same period this year, up for property crime from 2.5% in 2022 to 11.8%, and for drug crime it went down to zero this year from 40% in 2022.
Regarding the big four items – a term given for traffic charges in Southern Georgian Bay – there were 19 seatbelt charges and one distracted charge; no impaired charges occurred in the second quarter. Of the 348 total charges, however 328 were attributed to speeding.
Two motor vehicle collisions were reported in the timeframe, to which Pittman said driver behaviour was a contributing factor often in those instances.
“There seems to be less patience now with people on the roads; more aggressive,” said Pittman. “A lot of people blame it on COVID; I always hate to hear that, myself. But I know things have changed since then.
“It’s a sad thing to see, so we will continue our enforcement efforts and make our best attempts to curb that behaviour. I see it society-wide and it’s concerning.”
The feeling wasn’t lost on council, who shared similar concerns.
“Society in general – they're just coming to the point that they feel they’re fearless,” Deputy Mayor Barry Norris said. “This is beyond the OPP. Somehow or other, there has to be an education for society on all laws. Unfortunately, most people are ignorant to that; as I always say: ‘what part of the sign didn't you understand when it says 60 kilometres an hour?’”
Coun. Paul Raymond also noted community concerns regarding speeding, and a rash of costly vandalism occurring throughout Tay Township including the theft of a bronze plaque in Paradise Point. As the report showed 43.25 foot patrol hours and 343.5 cruiser patrol hours during the timeframe (with 404.25 marine patrol hours), Raymond acknowledged visibility efforts by the OPP but asked what could be done to further deter crime.
Pittman’s response was pointed to a CamSafe program which he was hoping to introduce to regional municipalities and residents, which was promoted as a ‘neighbourhood watch 2.0’ via user-provided voluntary security cameras in an online registry.
Tay police calls for services were 3,351 in 2023, down greatly from 3,982 in 2022.
The Southern Georgian Bay OPP 2023 Q2 report, including calls for service, can be found in the committee of the whole agenda on the Tay Township website.
Tay council meets for committee of the whole meetings every second Wednesday of the month, and regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Archives and livestreams of council meetings are available through the Tay Township YouTube channel.