By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the LaSalle Post on Dec. 2, 2016
On Aug. 23, 1969, Robert Carrick, a Sandwich West police constable, did not come home from work.
He sacrificed his life in the line of duty, for his community, for the lives of a mother and her young daughter.
Just over 47 years later, LaSalle Town Council voted to formalize an application to commemorate his sacrifice within his community with the renaming of the Sandwich West Parkway bridge in his honour.
“What this council did today, in about a month, is to ensure that the legacy of an individual who fell in our community, protecting our parents, is memorialized,” explained Coun. Mike Akpata, who tabled the motion. “I am comfortable saying that the Carrick family will never forget their loss and the other officers that were working that day will remember Const. Carrick. We, as a council, have ensured that his memory will live on within our municipality.”
As reported in the Aug. 25, 1969 edition of the Windsor Star, Const. Carrick was the first of four officers to initially respond to a call at 1765 Sprucewood St. in the mid-afternoon
Described by then Police Chief B. D. Fuller as an “average domestic complaint”, a young mother and daughter fled to the officer as he approached the residence.
As the assailant retreated into the house and took up a sniper position, with a rifle and shotgun, from the child’s bedroom window, Const. Carrick ordered the woman and her child under his car for shelter.
Carrick was mortally wounded soon after.
Constables Robert Ross, Alfred Oakley, and Bill Arbing arrived at the scene as the shootout began.
Ross of the Sandwich West force and Oakley of the Windsor Police were both wounded multiple times in the gunfight.
Arbing, another Windsor officer present, personally knew Carrick and was haunted by the needless violence.
Coun. Akpata, who served in the Windsor Police Service for 21 years and is, himself, a combat veteran, added that the renaming of a bridge in the constable’s honour may inspire others into serving their community.
“I hope that the next prime minister, the next governor general, the next police chief sees these signs [marking the bridge] and is steered towards service,” said Akpata.
Robert Carrick, known by his friends and family as ‘Robin’, was a scuba-diving enthusiast.
At 22-years-old, he had big dreams.
He was with the force for three-and-a-half years and had recently given his notice.
Carrick planned to travel to Fort Lauderdale to further his dive training, and devote his full concentration to this endeavour.
He was four days from resigning on the day that he passed.
“What I hope for people to remember, as they drive by, is that there is a family in [LaSalle] that’s tied to this municipality forever. That there is a gentleman who gave his life, in service above self,” added Coun. Akpata.
The commemoration was developed separately, but concurrently with that of the application on behalf of Senior Const. John Atkinson by Windsor City Council.
In October, LaSalle’s council voted to support the naming of the bridge over the Herb Gray Parkway for Atkinson, as the bridge has foundations in both communities.
“It’s just very good, concurrent, timing,” said Akpata. Explaining that the two efforts were actually a coincidence, he added that “hopefully [Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca] will receive two complete packages from our neighbouring municipalities, on the same day, and get them signed, so we can get these nameplates up.”
Council prepared for budget discussion
In the weeks ahead, council will turn their attention to next year’s budget.
If all goes as planned, the municipal tax rate will increase by 0.46 per cent.
Also, due to the quadrennial property re-assessment by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), there will be an average additional hike in taxes of 3.84 per cent.
“So there’s kind of two parts that make up an increase in the bill,” explained Dale Langlois, manager of finance and deputy treasurer of LaSalle. “The one part that’s the same for every homeowner is the tax rate increase. We’ve proposed, in this proposed budget, a 0.46 per cent tax rate increase. The other part is the assessment value, and basically every four years MPAC reassesses the value of houses. This year, the assessed value is going to be different for everyone.”
The average household’s municipal tax would increase by 4.3 per cent under the proposed budget, but Langlois emphasized that the municipal tax increase will not be the same for everyone and that LaSalle has no control over MPAC valuations.
“[For] some people it might be more if your house goes up more in value, for some people it might be less, but the town [has] no impact on the assessed value of the house, that’s by a completely separate corporation. We just set the tax rate.”
The town does have control over the municipal tax rate, however, and they look to use it wisely if approved.
“We’re focusing on contributing more money to capital reserves,” said Langlois. “Right now we are a little over $7 million a year [that] we put into capital reserves. We want to build that up over a number of years, just so that in the future when roads start crumbling and [the] storm sewer underneath them, we’re going to have the money in place to replace them. It’s a long-term plan, so we’re basically planning for the future,” later adding, “we are putting preventable measures in place just to make our assets last longer.”
If approved, the municipal levy will increase by approximately $1.9 million, growing to roughly $29 million.
There will be multiple facets to the budget this year that are of interest to the community.
Provisions set to be included, but are not limited to, the proposed transit system, a town splash pad and playground and crack-healing programs for the community’s roads.
Budget deliberations will take place from Dec. 7 through Dec. 9 at the LaSalle Civic Centre, starting at 9:30 a.m. daily.
Council will reconvene for its final session of the year on Dec. 13 at 7:00 p.m.