Counties cover fire dispatch bill
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.
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.