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Brockville police shopping for a new boat

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For the Brockville Police Service, a boat is not a luxury, police board members agree, but how to buy one is up for discussion.

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The city’s police services board on Tuesday backed a motion calling for further talks with City Hall on the acquisition of a new police boat, either through outright purchase or a lease to buy. The move comes after the previous marine response craft gave up the ghost last year.

The resolution makes it clear the police board would prefer to buy the new boat rather than leasing to own with the accompanying interest payments. The board hopes to get feedback before its next meeting next month.

After three decades of service, the “Col. Watson,” a 22-foot Metalcraft boat used for marine enforcement, broke down beyond recovery last fall, said Police Chief Mark Noonan.

The police force got $19,000 for what was left of the vehicle through a government auction, he added.

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He told the police board the police service has been looking at options for the Colonel’s successor, which he considers a necessity considering the city-owned islands in need of patrol and enforcement, and the inevitable need for river rescues.

“I don’t think we get away from a marine response component to this service,” said the chief.

“If you’re a waterway community, you should have that element of response.”

The police force currently has arrangements with the city’s parks and recreation department, as well as the RCMP, the OPP and the Canadian Coast Guard, for river responses if needed, but with all those agencies using their boats for their own needs, there is never a guarantee, said the chief.

“It does not put a boat in our vicinity on an immediate basis.”

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Noonan said lease-to-own options could see the city spending in the neighbourhood of $160,000 to $183,000. Depending on how much money could be put down up front, the monthly payments could range from $1,600 to $2,100.

There is also the matter of timing.

“This would not probably be an option for us this summer anyway,” said the chief.

While the police sometimes ferried firefighters on the river with the previous boat, Noonan said a formal partnership with the Brockville Fire Department to acquire a new boat would not work, because the requirements for fire service vessels would put the cost beyond reach.

Police board member Larry Journal wondered if a corporate sponsor could be found to help pay for the new police boat, adding the item could be included in next year’s city capital budget.

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“My preference would be to buy a boat, as opposed to leasing a boat,” said Journal, adding the city should order the boat soon if it wants one ready for next year.

Coun. Mike Kalivas, a city council representative on the police board, said he would approach city manager Sandra MacDonald about the different options available. But he warned colleagues city councillors are now preoccupied with another budget line item.

“Right now, we have tunnel vision,” he quipped.

Rzajac@postmedia.com

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