Tucked away in a large commercial building off Cornelia street west in Smiths Falls — is the Ontario Provincial Police’s East Region Communications Centre. The OPP has announced it will be closing the facility, which employs more than a hundred mostly civilians.
The move will be an economic blow to the town.
“These are good-paying jobs, with specialised skills,” Smiths Falls mayor Shawn Pankow said. “It’s a loss to the community and unfortunately, there will likely be people from our community that will have to move on to somewhere else, and uproot their families.”
“The hope is the roughly one hundred employees will be able to move to one of the other communication centres in Ontario, as the Smiths Falls location was the only one affected by Thursday’s announcement.”
“It was a decision that was not made lightly,” OPP media relations manager Bill Dickson said. “It was only done after some detailed analysis and a lot of painstaking work looking at the need to develop efficiencies and that advances in technology as well.”
Dispatch services and call-taking will be moved to the OPP communication Centre in Orillia. However, Dickson says there will be no disruption of service.
“Service in your communities will not be affected,” Dickson said. “That is one thing we are strongly guaranteeing to everyone is this will not have an impact when you call 9-1-1 or our 1-888 number and require a police response on the officers that come to your community.”
And while the loss of jobs is never a good thing for a community, the mayor is trying to be optimistic this space won’t be empty for too long.
“It’s going to be an attractive space in an attractive building,” Pankow said. “We’ll have our economic development department which is always working with potential employers to find spots. Quite often it’s a challenge finding a big enough space.”
The OPP say the closure of the East Region Communications Centre will be done in phases, with a completion date of around this time next year. There will be options for employees to transfer to other detachments, but it is unclear how many employees will stay on.