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Orangeville mayor alleges OPS officer intentionally controvened Town bylaw

June 28, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Orangeville Mayor Sandy Brown became embroiled in something of a war of words over social media this week after calling out local police officials for erecting what he called “illegal” signs at two locations in the community.

The first sign was posted on an external wall at Quality Cheese, located at 40 Centennial Road, approximately three weeks ago, while a second, more prominent sign was hung across a tractor trailer parked in the Canadian Tire parking lot at the former Orangeville Fairgrounds towards the end of last week.

“As you may, or may not know, you can’t just put a sign up wherever you want. There’s a process for getting a permit if individuals would like to post signs around town, but I can tell you this is considered third party advertising,” Mayor Brown informed the Citizen. “It is contravening a municipal bylaw.”

The signs in question display the verbiage ‘Keep Orangeville Police Service’, a campaign led by the Orangeville Police Association, the union that represents both the officers and civilian members of OPS, to raise awareness and promote the local force as the municipality embarks on a second OPP costing process in just three years.

The municipality’s sign bylaw prohibits any sign to be erected or displayed on public or private property without prior approval from the Town. At a recent meeting, held on June 10, Orangeville Council agreed not to enforce that bylaw for any resident who wishes to display a bag sign on their front lawn. That courtesy, according to Mayor Brown, does not extend to the business sector.

“You can invoke freedom of speech. If someone wants to put up one of these signs on their own residential property, then fine. But that is not extended to private businesses,” Mayor Brown said.

The mayor confirmed he visited Quality Cheese a little over a week ago to discuss the sign that had been posted at the building. After talking to the general manager of the site, where he explained the municipality’s bylaws, Quality Cheese got in touch with the OPA. It was determined that, to prevent any potential issues arising, the sign would be taken down. 

Then, early on Tuesday morning, Mayor Brown called out OPS on Facebook after discovering a new sign had been hung across a tractor trailer in the Canadian Tire parking lot. Speaking to the Citizen, Mayor Brown called out Sgt. Doug Fry, President of the OPA, contending he was deliberately contravening municipal bylaws.

“The banner at Quality Cheese was orchestrated by Doug Fry. The banner at the trailer was done with the knowledge of Doug Fry. He said he had permission for the banner to be put up. I don’t know what permission he thought he had, but (it wasn’t the municipality’s),” Mayor Brown said. “I guess what I’m getting at is I don’t like police officers coercing businesses. This has happened time and again. They should stand down and stop coercing businesses to do this. When a uniformed police officer asks you to do something, typically you’re not going to say no. It’s unfair for them to be showing up and asking for this.”

Addressing the claims of uniformed officers asking businesses to put up signs while on the clock, Sgt. Fry stated they were, categorically, false. 

“Uniformed officers aren’t asking businesses to put signs up. That is completely false. I’m the one responsible for putting up most of the window signs downtown. Every time I was in plain-clothes and identified myself as a police officer. None of this was ever done in uniform, or on police time,” Sgt. Fry said.

After learning about the issue blowing up on social media, Sgt. Fry admitted he was surprised to see this become such a contentious matter. During the previous process, he noted there were “absolutely no issues” regarding the placement of KOPS signs in the community. 

He went on to accuse Mayor Brown of having an agenda against OPS and questioned whether he should remain Chair of the Orangeville Police Services Board (OPSB) while, in his opinion, fighting to disband the local force.

“I know ignorance is no plea, but I did not read the sign bylaw before putting the signs up,” Sgt. Fry admitted. “With that said, the disdain (Mayor Brown) has for us is pretty sad. The last mayor was also chair of the OPSB, but any issues he had with us he kept to himself. He never openly showed his disdain for the service.”

He added, “Sandy, he ran on the platform he did and made it quite plain he was going to look to have us replaced by OPP. He has openly promoted getting rid of Orangeville Police. To me, that puts him in a conflict of interest. It states in the Police Services Act that the role of PSB Chair is to give support to OPS. He says he supports OPS, but how can he when he’s doing everything in his power to kick us off the map?”

Mayor Brown said he had no intention of stepping down as chair of the OPSB, while maintaining he has no hidden agenda, or issues, with OPS.

“These are two separate issues. I sit in a position on the PSB where I’m supporting the operation of OPS. I see no issues with the operation of OPS,” Mayor Brown said. “If a municipal employee wants to contravene our bylaws, I’m going to call them out on it. As a private citizen, I did this before I was elected. I will continue to do so now.”

He added, “If you want to put up an illegal sign and cause issues, I’m going to call you out. But that has nothing to do with my position as chair of the OPSB.”

As of press time, the signs located at both Quality Cheese and the old fairgrounds parking lot had been removed. Sgt. Fry confirmed there were no plans to replace them.



         

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