Coun­cil re­verses com­mit­tee’s de­ci­sion

The Sudbury Star - - FRONT PAGE - MARY KATHER­INE KEOWN

Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini is very con­cerned the op­ti­miza­tion plan is rear­ing its ugly head again.

At Tues­day’s coun­cil meet­ing, Ward 11 Coun. Bill Le­duc asked his peers to re­con­sider a mo­tion he had pre­vi­ously brought for­ward to the emer­gency ser­vices com­mit­tee on April 17.

In his mo­tion, Le­duc asked that staff be di­rected “to work with the Greater Sud­bury Po­lice Ser­vice in its fa­cil­i­ties study, which will in­clude the vi­a­bil­ity of a shared head­quar­ters and re­port back to coun­cil.”

As Le­duc noted in his mo­tion, the po­lice ser­vice iden­ti­fied a com­pre­hen­sive needs as­sess­ment of its fa­cil­i­ties as one of their de­liv­er­ables for 2019.

“The City of Greater Sud­bury’s com­mu­nity safety de­part­ment (fire and para­medic ser­vices) is also fac­ing chal­lenges at its cur­rent location at the Lionel E. Lalonde Cen­tre,” Le­duc noted in his mo­tion. “In or­der to achieve economies of scale, it would be ap­pro­pri­ate for the Greater Sud­bury Po­lice Ser­vice and the City of Greater Sud­bury’s com­mu­nity safety de­part­ment to col­lab­o­rate and co-or­di­nate ef­forts for a com­pre­hen­sive head­quar­ters fa­cil­ity needs as­sess­ment, which could po­ten­tially lead to a com­bined po­lice, fire and para­medic head­quar­ters com­plex.”

Le­duc’s mo­tion was re­jected at the emer­gency ser­vices com­mit­tee; how­ever, he asked that it be pulled Tues­day and the ma­jor­ity of coun­cil­lors ended up vot­ing in favour of a re­port, de­spite ve­he­ment op­po­si­tion from Vagnini and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Mont­pel­lier.

As Le­duc pointed out, a re­port on the amal­ga­ma­tion of ser­vices would not cost money and would not di­vide the com­mu­nity. He also said there is prece­dence. Barrie has a sim­i­lar struc­ture, Le­duc said, which has worked well.

“The out­ly­ing ar­eas are go­ing to re­main the same, they’re still go­ing to have their ser­vices; we’re try­ing to bring ev­ery­thing un­der one roof to make it more cost-ef­fec­tive for Sud­bury and for res­i­dents, all res­i­dents of Sud­bury,” Le­duc said.

Vagnini said the mo­tion re­sem­bled one of the cen­tral com­po­nents of the failed op­ti­miza­tion plan, which di­vided the city. He was vis­i­bly frus­trated at some points dur­ing Tues­day’s dis­cus­sion and ar­gued that bring­ing for­ward this mo­tion is like open­ing a heal­ing wound.

“What it did is cre­ate a great di­vide be­tween the core of the city and the out­ly­ing ar­eas,” Vagnini said. “What is the pur­pose be­hind the mo­tion?”

Le­duc said coun­cil has a fidu­ciary re­spon­si­bil­ity to look at ways of op­er­at­ing in a cost-ef­fi­cient man­ner.

“If we build one sta­tion that houses ev­ery­body, then we have the po­ten­tial of elim­i­nat­ing build­ings, not jobs, but elim­i­nat­ing build­ings that are cost­ing tax­pay­ers,” he said.

Vagnini was un­con­vinced and said the idea of clos­ing sta­tions re­sem­bles op­ti­miza­tion too much. He re­minded his col­leagues the plan was unan­i­mously re­jected in 2017.

“This re­ally, re­ally con­cerns me; I don’t know if, at this time, we want to go into this en­vi­ron­ment when we have so many other is­sues that are on the ta­ble,” Vagnini said. “I don’t know if the tim­ing of this mo­tion is ap­pro­pri­ate with re­spect to ev­ery­thing else we have go­ing on.”

Mont­pel­lier said Tues­day the city has a $66-mil­lion as­set in the Lionel E. Lalonde Cen­tre and it would not make sense to dis­con­tinue us­ing it. He said the cen­tre has re­cently been ren­o­vated and up­graded. He also pointed out the fed­eral govern­ment just an­nounced $1 mil­lion in fund­ing for a ther­a­peu­tic leisure pool, which would be housed at the cen­tre. With­out an an­chor ten­ant like EMS, Mont­pel­lier said the project could be in jeop­ardy.

Le­duc got some sup­port from Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre, who said the mo­tion would al­low the chiefs of the three emer­gency ser­vices to meet and dis­cuss how amal­ga­mat­ing head­quar­ters would im­pact each of their ser­vices. For one thing, it would cut down on the num­ber of kilo­me­tres crews travel to and from the Lionel E. Lalonde Cen­tre – a min­i­mum of 280,000 km an­nu­ally, Lapierre noted.

“There are no ef­fi­cien­cies in that,” he said.

Lapierre also said the bulk of 911 calls come from the New Sud­bury and ur­ban core ar­eas.

Cen­tral­iz­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices and train­ing lo­ca­tions could also ben­e­fit EMS, Lapierre, a para­medic him­self, noted. He said the re­port is not ad­vo­cat­ing for any changes to ser­vice or staffing lev­els.

“I’m hop­ing we can al­low this so at least they can have a chat,” Lapierre said.

Vagnini, Mont­pel­lier and Mayor Brian Big­ger all voted against Le­duc’s mo­tion; how­ever, ev­ery­one else voted in favour of it. Ward 1 Coun. Mark Sig­noretti ab­stained from vot­ing. Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kir­wan was ab­sent from Tues­day’s meet­ing.

If we build one sta­tion that houses ev­ery­body, then we have the po­ten­tial of elim­i­nat­ing build­ings, not jobs, but elim­i­nat­ing build­ings that are cost­ing tax­pay­ers

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