Coun­ties co­ver fire dis­patch bill

Tribune Express - - ACTUALITÉS • NEWS - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

Anyone cal­ling 911 in Pres­cott-Rus­sell, when a house or barn fire is in­vol­ved, can now be sure of seeing the fire trucks ar­rive in time.

The Uni­ted Coun­ties of Pres­cott-Rus­sell coun­cil (UCPR) gave una­ni­mous ap­pro­val to a new th­ree-year contract for fire dis­patch ser­vice with the Town of Haw­kes­bu­ry. The ap­pro­val vote du­ring a June 14 spe­cial ses­sion of coun­ties coun­cil brings to an end se­ve­ral months of un­cer­tain­ty for six UCPR mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties about whe­ther or not they would have a fire dis­patch ser­vice any­more this year, and re­lieves Haw­kes­bu­ry’s wor­ries about the im­me­diate fate of the fire dis­patch re­lay ser­vice it has had in place for it­self and other com­mu­ni­ties wi­thin Pres­cott-Rus­sell.

“Thank you, gent­le­men, for agreeing to this agree­ment,” said mayor Jeanne Char­le­bois of Haw­kes­bu­ry. “I think we will have a few good years to­ge­ther.”

The fire dis­patch ser­vice for Pres­cott-Rus­sell has been the sub­ject of de­bate for the past couple of years. Haw­kes­bu­ry has pro­vi­ded the ser­vice for it­self and six other mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties in the UCPR, along with a couple of com­mu­ni­ties in neigh­bou­ring Stor­mont-Dun­das-Glen­gar­ry (SDG), for ma­ny years. The Ci­ty of Cla­rence-Ro­ck­land has had an ar­ran­ge­ment for se­ve­ral years with the Ci­ty of Ot­ta­wa for fire dis­patch ser­vice, at a lo­wer cost than mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties that deal with Haw­kes­bu­ry.

Du­ring the last couple of years, the dis­patch client list for Haw­kes­bu­ry be­gan to shrink with the SDG mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties swit­ching over to Corn­wall for fire dis­patch. The re­mai­ning UCPR mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties then found their shares of the cost in­crea­sed. That promp­ted Rus­sell, Cham­plain, East Haw­kes­bu­ry and Cham­plain town­ships, The Na­tion Mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ty, and the Vil­lage of Cas­sel­man to in­ves­ti­gate the fea­si­bi­li­ty of contrac­ting with Ot­ta­wa for fire dis­patch, at a rate com­pa­rable with what Cla­rence-Ro­ck­land pays. Haw­kes­bu­ry al­so contac­ted Ot­ta­wa about the pos­si­bi­li­ty.

But Ot­ta­wa re­plied that it was not in­ter­es­ted in si­gning any more in­di­vi­dual contracts. It would on­ly consi­der a single Pres­cott-Rus­sell contract for fire dis­patch. Cla­rence-Ro­ck­land’s exis­ting contract for fire dis­patch re­mai­ned at sta­tus quo.

The exis­ting contract bet­ween the six mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties and Haw­kes­bu­ry was due to ex­pire this year. The UCPR ne­go­tia­ted an ex­ten­sion of the exis­ting agree­ment and then be­gan talks with Haw­kes­bu­ry for a threeyear fire dis­patch agree­ment bet­ween the town and the coun­ties, en­ding Feb. 29, 2020. Un­der the terms of the agree­ment, the coun­ties will co­ver the cost for fire dis­patch for the six mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties and then re­dis­tri­bute the ex­pense to those mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties through the 2018 coun­ty le­vy. Du­ring the se­cond and third year of the deal, the coun­ties will co­ver the fire dis­patch cost for all eight mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties, in­clu­ding Cla­rence-Ro­ck­land’s bill from Ot­ta­wa.

With the fire dis­patch agree­ment ap­pro­ved, the ad­mi­nis­tra­tion for both the coun­ties and the eight mu­ni­ci­pa­li­ties can now focus their at­ten­tion on the nee­ded equip­ment up­grades for mu­ni­ci­pal fire de­part­ments’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems.

—pho­to ar­chive

La ré­par­ti­tion des ser­vices d’in­cen­die pour toutes les com­mu­nau­tés de Pres­cott-Rus­sell est main­te­nant as­su­rée, suite à une en­tente de ser­vice de trois ans entre les Com­tés unis de Pres­cott et Rus­sell et la Ville de Haw­kes­bu­ry.

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