City police ‘putting some effort’ into distracted driving could help budget, says county councillor

SD&G Coun. Bill McGimpsey, seen here in a June 2016 file photo, says the city could help its budget woes if the police force could put some effort into charging people for distracted driving. McGimpsey says he sees about 50 people a day driving with a cell phone in their hands. Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – A county councillor suggests the City of Cornwall could help its budget woes if the city police would join forces with the O.P.P. by “putting some effort” into combating distracted driving.

Bill McGimpsey floated the idea while county council was discussing appointments to the SD&G O.P.P. Police Services Board.

“I look at the City of Cornwall struggling get their tax rate down under 7 or 8 per cent and yet every day I see 50 people driving with a hands-free device in their hand. I can’t help but think if we put some sort of effort into stopping these people to reduce accidents,” McGimpsey said.

The councillor advocated for a meeting between the chairmen of both police boards; Dennis Fife for the county and Andre Rivette for the city. He also mentioned the joint liaison committee could also talk to the city.

McGimpsey said a common goal of targeting 2,000 hand-held devices would generate $1 million in new revenue. “All that would come back into county and city coffers” as new revenue.

“It’s an absolute nightmare problem, which we talked about six months ago,” McGimpsey said.

Dennis Fife, chairman of the SD&G O.P.P. Police Services Board, acknowledged the problem but said the province had made the rules around distracted drivers so hard “you almost have to stand on top of the guy to watch them do it, or you can’t charge them.” Fife said he sees about 15 distracted drivers a day and wishes he could write tickets too.

Fife didn’t appear to be interested in the idea, saying he’s never spoken to the Cornwall police board in 20 years.

“Perhaps a resident of the City of Cornwall could bring that up,” Warden Ian McLeod said before councillors burst out laughing. McGimpsey moved from North Stormont to Cornwall, but is still a property owner in the township.