Spark­ing a de­bate

Coun. Terry Bernard ar­gues the city should run with three fire sta­tions and not close Sherwood op­er­a­tion

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - MU­NIC­I­PAL BY DAVE STE­WART

Coun. Terry Bernard is try­ing to save the Sherwood fire sta­tion from clos­ing in Char­lot­te­town.

Bernard, the Ward 10 coun­cil­lor who rep­re­sents res­i­dents all in the Sherwood fire sta­tion’s cov­er­age area, de­bated the point dur­ing coun­cil’s reg­u­lar public monthly meet­ing on Mon­day.

“What we have is the pos­si­bil­ity of Sherwood clos­ing down so the re­sponse times (to fires) for what peo­ple in these four com­mu­ni­ties are tra­di­tion­ally used to . . . are ob­vi­ously go­ing to in­crease,’’ Bernard told The Guardian fol­low­ing the meet­ing.

The four com­mu­ni­ties he speaks of are Sherwood, Park­dale, Hills­bor­ough Park and East Roy­alty.

Af­ter years of try­ing to get

things off the ground, coun­cil an­nounced last month it had pur­chased land for a new fire hall in the north end of the city.

It will be lo­cated on Malpeque Road, be­tween the At­lantic Cat deal­er­ship and Moore Well and Drilling Inc.

The new fire sta­tion will have ac­cess onto both Malpeque Road and Sherwood Road.

The city is pay­ing $870,000 for the 4.5-acre prop­erty.

Based on an in­sur­ance un­der­writ­ers re­port that came out a num­ber of years ago that in­di­cated the city was grow­ing in the Winsloe, West Roy­alty and West Roy­alty In­dus­trial Park ar­eas, fire cov­er­age was be­com­ing a greater con­cern.

Through­out the en­tire process it has al­ways been the city’s in­ten­tion to move for­ward with two fire sta­tions — the ex­ist­ing one on Kent Street (Sta­tion 1) and the new fire sta­tion in West Roy­alty. The in­ten­tion has al­ways been to close Sta­tion 2 in Sherwood when the new fire sta­tion is read in West Roy­alty.

Now, Bernard is ques­tion­ing why all three can­not re­main open.

Bernard said the city leases the build­ing in Sherwood for free and the fire de­part­ment has a com­ple­ment of 38 fire­fight­ers.

“So, if half the fire­fight­ers go to West Roy­alty and you still re­tain the other half, they can han­dle the smaller dis­trict. You’ll have the three dis­tricts to cover the city well, and no­body’s re­sponse times are go­ing to be less than what they’d ex­pect them to be.’’

Mayor Clif­ford Lee cau­tioned coun­cil about go­ing down this path, point­ing out that the un­der­writ­ers re­port also said the city should staff both its fire halls with full-time fire­fight­ers.

By fol­low­ing that rec­om­men­da­tion,

and adding a third fire sta­tion, things will get ex­pen­sive in a hurry.

Bernard said right now the Sherwood sta­tion is staffed by vol­un­teers. Al­though all fire­fight­ers get an hon­ourar­ium, the cost is rel­a­tively low.

Prior to amal­ga­ma­tion, the Sherwood and Park­dale neigh­bour­hoods each had their own fire de­part­ment.

As for the mayor’s con­cerns, Bernard said he’s just look­ing to start a con­ver­sa­tion on the mat­ter.

“I haven’t yet heard any good rea­sons not to keep Sta­tion 2 open. Un­til I hear some good rea­sons I will be ad­vo­cat­ing to keep Sta­tion 2 open,’’ Bernard said.

DAVE STE­WART/THE GUARDIAN

Coun. Terry Bernard, shown out­side Fire Sta­tion 1, says the City of Char­lot­te­town should keep the fire sta­tion in Sherwood open when the new one is fin­ished in West Roy­alty. It had al­ways been the city’s in­tent to close the Sherwood op­er­a­tion down and con­tinue run­ning with two fire de­part­ments.

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