Orangeville council investigating new false alarm program

July 14, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

Orangeville Council is looking at developing a new approach for false alarm calls to emergency services.

A motion was unanimously passed at a regular council meeting on Monday (July 11), directing town staff to review and assess false alarm data provided by the OPP and to focus on education with callers who have a false alarm as an initial step. Staff will report back to Council during 2023 budget deliberations to share what resources are required to develop a False Alarm By-law and program on a permanent basis.

The motion from Monday’s council meeting goes back to Jan. 10, when council learned that during the first nine months of 2021, the OPP used 220 hours of time for 171 false alarm calls. At this time, council asked town staff to determine the cost of false alarms and if this cost can be billed back to those responsible.

It was highlighted in staff’s report to council on July 11 that most false alarms are due to user error or security hardware issues.

A bylaw for false alarms was in place from 2015 to 2020 under the Orangeville Police Service (OPS), that is no longer in effect. It stipulated that a written warning is given to residents after their first two false alarms and on the third incident they receive a “30-day suspension or in leu of suspension a $150 reinstatement fee.” The fourth incident results in a “one year suspension or in lieu of suspension a $200 reinstatement fee.”

Deputy Mayor Andy Macintosh questioned the legality of OPS’s former approach to false alarms, noting that the town could be sued if a business were broken into and denied a response from police.

He said when the new false alarm program is in place, the town must be very specific as to what constitutes a false alarm.

Mayor Sandy Brown said he agrees with the Deputy Mayor and questioned what a 30-day or one-year suspension would mean for residents. 

“I would be more in favor of a monetary penalty rather than suspension, as the concern for liability is there,” he explained.

Orangeville’s general manager of corporate services, Andrea McKinney said that town staff won’t be recommending the OPS’s former approach. It will start with a focus on education to establish a baseline of the program for 2023 and to understand the financial or administrative impact. From there the details will be worked out.

The OPP Transition Contract with the town doesn’t bill for calls for service for the first three years (2020-2023), but in the fourth year Orangeville will become liable for the financial impact.

This means while the town is in the education phase of the new false alarm program in 2023, local taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill, as cost of calls for service go into effect in 2024.

Town staff researched the cost of false alarm calls in Wellington County, as a frame of reference, and concluded their cost is roughly $385 a call.

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.