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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fire Services Discussed

North Huron | by Rick Stow  

Reps walk through presentations dealing with how much Morris-Turnberry pays North Huron for fire protection.


Morris-Turnberry Mayor Paul Gowing says he's taking the threat the municipality will go-it-alone with its own Fire Department off the table.

Representatives walked the public through power point presentations dealing with how much Morris-Turnberry pays North Huron for fire protection under a deal that expires in 2014.

Morris-Turnberry thinks it is too much.

Mayor Paul Gowing says overall fire costs have gone up 256 percent since 2009, while the coverage area under contract is only 62 percent of its former size.

Gowing questions whether Morris-Turnberry should be paying capital costs as part of its assessment, when his municipality has no ownership in the North Huron Fire Department.

Gary Long, the Chief Administrative Officer for North Huron, says the North Huron Fire Department is compliant with Provincial Code-- a status which requires spending training dollars.

Long says this means North Huron volunteer firefighters train on a weekly basis.

He says his municipality's Fire Budget is comparable to North Perth and Brockton that provide similar compliance.

Morris-Turnberry Mayor Paul Gowing thinks the meeting cleared the air and that the two sides each have a better understanding of the issues.

Gowing would like to see joint-ownership of the Fire Service on the table.

He says his proposal comes after vetting it by the Ontario Fire Marshal's Department.

Gowing says the other option would be to strike money paid to the Fire Department's capital reserve from his bill, and determine a cost-sharing formula based on assessment.

North Huron CAO Gary Long offered three carrots in the discussion.

Long said North Huron would provide Fire Education campaigns in Morris-Turnberry at no additional cost and keep contract increases to the rate of inflation.

He said North Huron would take part in a boundary review to assure the closest fire station provides emergency service.

The two municipalities are looking at working out the bugs in the relationship before considering a second five-year agreement.

Morris-Turnberry is the only Ontario municipality with no direct stake in any of the fire services that provide it protection.

North Huron also provides fire protection service to parts of A-C-W and Central Huron.

Each council will study the other's presentation at its next meeting.


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