North Frontenac passed a resolution at its regular meeting Monday morning in Plevna to hire a consultant to conduct interviews with its Ward 1 firefighters.
Director of Emergency Services/Fire Chief Eric Korhonen told Council that “our Ward 1residents aren’t getting the same level of service the other two wards are, for one thing, there are a number of different bylaws” and “I do believe there is a cost savings to be had.”
The measure wasn’t on the original agenda, which led Coun. John Inglis to ask “it’s a bit of a news item to me — am I alone on that?”
North Frontenac has a joint agreement with neighbouring Addington Highlands Township to provide fire and emergency services to the former Barrie Township, North Frontenac’s most westerly ward through the joint Kaladar/Barrie Fire Department.
North Frontenac took a look at how it delivers these services in Wards 2 and 3 previously, a study that included interviews with firefighters and support staff.
Coun. Gerry Martin supported the idea.
“We got good results interviewing Ward 2 and 3 volunteers,” Martin said. “We should do the same with Ward 1.
“We got a better fire department because we talked to those people.”
But other councilors weren’t so sure this new study would be such a good idea.
“I’m not in favour,” said Dep. Mayor Fred Perry. “We’ve improved this agreement over time and I don’t want a witch hunt.
“If you make the wrong move, you’re going to have an issue.”
“We might be poking a bear here,” said Coun. Vernon Hermer. “We could be alienating some people.”
Inglis asked how this proposal came about and CAO Cheryl Robson said: “this was all discussed during the Fire Master Plan debate.
“We’re not asking Addington Highlands for any money, we’re just asking the joint committee for approval and I’m looking at whether to put this in the budget.
“I don’t know what the recommendations will be.”
“So this isn’t coming about because somebody is screaming at us about service,” said Inglis.
Korhonen tried to argue for more latitude for the consultant but Council was leery of that.
“I think the consultant will need a little more freedom than just interviewing staff,” Korhonen said.
He also said that he wasn’t aware of any similar joint fire committees in the Province.
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During a rather routine zoning amendment procedure, it was noted that the property was on a private lane with a locked gate.
Fire Chief Eric Korhonen was asked if that presented a problem in the event of an emergency.
“We either roll over them (locked gates) or we cut the lock,” he said. “There isn’t much that can stop our equipment.”
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Council approved the hiring of a summer student to help with the efforts to study and control the infestation of Eurasian Milfoil on Malcolm and Ardoch Lakes.
“It’s an experiment the MNR has approved,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.
“I’m not sure if we’re throwing money away but if they learn something, that will be applicable to our other lakes,” said Coun. John Inglis. “The major (tax) contributors are our seasonables and this addresses their issue.”
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Coun. Gerry Martin took exception to the existence of the Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection Committee and how its members are selected.
“This is just bureaucratic system creep and what Randy (MPP Hillier) was talking about,” Martin said. “There’s some empire building going on.”
“Is this the thing where they’re going to tax our private wells?” said Coun. John Inglis.
“Ottawa has two members, Perth, Smiths Falls and Carleton Place have one,” said Martin. “They all have municipal water supplies.”
“I’ll talk to the other mayors and come back with some information in February,” said Mayor Ron Higgins.