A model that works

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

T he Bay de Grave Re­gional Fire Depart­ment has a great fire sta­tion built brand-new for the fire­fight­ers who were will­ing to join forces five years ago to serve five com­mu­ni­ties in Con­cep­tion Bay North.

There were plenty of smil­ing faces last Thurs­day as mem­bers of the brigade gath­ered with lo­cal town coun­cil mem­bers and oth­ers who helped play a part in get­ting the fire depart­ment to where it is to­day. They were cel­e­brat­ing the end of mort­gage pay­ments on the build­ing and other fire­fight­ing equip­ment.

That rep­re­sents ap­prox­i­mately $120,000 paid off over five years — a fine ac­com­plish­ment in­deed.

The fire depart­ment’s ori­gins stretch back al­most 10 years. Mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers at the time thought it was be­com­ing too much of a bur­den to have mul­ti­ple fire de­part­ments serv­ing com­mu­ni­ties so ge­o­graph­i­cally close to each other.

There’s very lit­tle sep­a­rat­ing one com­mu­nity from the next when you travel through places like South River, Clarke’s Beach, North River, Makin­sons and Cupids.

There were hur­dles to pass along the way, but all com­mu­ni­ties man­aged to work to­gether to form the fire depart­ment. Of­fi­cials within the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment helped too, and some of those folks were on hand last Thurs­day. Among them was Fred Hol­lett, the for­mer pro­vin­cial fire com­mis­sioner.

In a po­si­tion to speak more freely since re­tir­ing from the public sec­tor, Hol­lett was ef­fu­sive in prais­ing all who paved the way for the Bay de Grave brigade’s for­ma­tion. He said the re­gional model worked in this case and needs to be ap­plied to other places and not only fire pro­tec­tion ser­vices.

Keith War­ren, a for­mer direc­tor of pro­grams and re­gional op­er­a­tions who is now re­tired from the Depart­ment of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs, echoed many of Hol­lett’s com­ments.

Re­gion­al­iza­tion con­tin­ues to be a hot topic for ru­ral gov­ern­ments. For those los­ing res­i­dents to labour mar­ket trends or an aging pop­u­la­tion, it won’t get any eas­ier to pro­vide the ba­sic ser­vices res­i­dents need.

With that in mind, towns need to con­sider how to make the best use of re­sources and as­sess the po­ten­tial benefits that can be drawn from co-op­er­at­ing with neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Those look­ing to in­ves­ti­gate may not need to look much fur­ther than what has hap­pened with the Bay de Grave Re­gional Fire Depart­ment. The chief, Jeremy Hall, said his crew has no trou­ble get­ting new equip­ment for fire­fight­ers when it’s needed.

A new res­cue truck should ar­rive later this sum­mer, and the board that looks af­ter the depart­ment al­ready has a fair chunk of change saved to look af­ter its por­tion of the cost-shared $200,000 price tag.

Re­gion­al­iza­tion is the way of the fu­ture, and the topic should not bore towns. Ide­ally, it can ex­cite them.

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