Harbour Grace makes shared-service pitch
Stone talks fire protection, economic development at joint councils meeting
A Harbour Grace town councillor made an impassioned pitch to fellow municipal leaders last week to work together on projects.
Coun. Gord Stone told attendees of a Conception Bay North Joint Councils Association meeting in North River that his town would like to establish a mutual aid agreement with the Town of Carbonear and any outlying communities that face the same sort of challenges Harbour Grace does when it comes to fire services.
“I’m sure if we work together there’s all kinds of things we can do,” he said last Thursday at meeting that featured representatives from communities throughout CBN, including Carbonear.
According to Stone, his town’s fire department is facing dual challenges. First there’s the issue of having enough bodies to fill the uniforms when an emergency happens. With many people working 14 days straight before taking a week off, it’s often uncertain how many firefighters can respond to an emergency at any given time. He noted the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department has always been there to help out when called upon.
On top of that is keeping up with the need for new equipment. Stone said fire departments are better off if mutual aid agreements are signed to formalize a shared-coverage arrangement. Doing so will improve the likelihood of attracting the funds needed for new equipment.
Clarke’s Beach Mayor and joint councils vice-chair Betty Moore said her town is well served by the Bay de Grave Volunteer Fire Department. Formed only a few years ago, it serves four municipalities (North River, Clarke’s Beach, South River and Cupids) and one local service district (Makinsons).
“It’s working well,” she said, noting the department has purchased new equipment and trucks since its formation.
Stone also pushed for towns to consider partnering on other projects with an economic development angle. He said towns need to take advantage of funding opportunities available through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and provincial government departments like Advanced Education and Skills. Representa- tives from the Town of Harbour Grace had recent discussions with these groups, and Stone considers that experience a positive one.
“I’m here to emphasize there’s a lot of people out there to help us and I think we need to take advantage of it.”
He said it’s harder these days to obtain funding from government departments and agencies because they want to support projects with a regional focus. Stone suggests towns should start looking at putting ideas on paper to show the region its municipal leaders are prepared to help it grow.
Joint councils chair Frank Antle at one point suggested it should look at arranging for representatives from these departments and agencies to attend a future meeting.