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No difference between adequate police service or fire deptto the editor,
Posted January 28, 2013
At last week's 2013 budget working session, mayor Mike MacEachern tried to gather Council's collective thoughts on a simple question. The members had to either confirm or reverse their earlier support for the introduction of six full-time persons to our fire department.
What boggled my mind was that the councillors were shrinking from making a decision that was in keeping with one of their own major priorities, that of building more homes and bringing more people to New Tecumseth.
What is so different between supplying an adequate police force and a fire department? Both are essential services.
Council recently approved the rising costs of an ever-growing police force, which the OPP explained was necessary as New Tecumseth is a growing community.
New Tecumseth fire chief Dan Heydo had to implore this council to recognize some facts. There are not sufficient people today who are willing to be called out in all kinds of weather, at any time of the day or night. Fewer employers are willing to excuse them from their work to answer the alarm. Our new subdivisions are not filling the need for more volunteers.
The Chief explained that only 50 per cent of the applicants
are suitable and after their training, some or all resign due to the
demand on their time and /or their employer changing his/her
permission. It is during the morning/ afternoon time slot when there is
frequently a necessity to put out a second call, as insufficient
volunteers were able to respond to the initial call. Calling in
neighbouring crews is not the ideal solution.
Looking at the Town's pie chart that shows where our taxes go, there is no alternative at this time except to re-cut the pie wedges until there are enough funds to have a sufficient full-time fire department to serve the three urban centres and rural communities.
This or definitely the next Council will have to set aside
today's business plan and its priorities and develop a new plan that
reflects what the Town needs and can afford. It should include
retrofitting crumbling infrastructure as well as providing for the
funding of an expanded fire service.