| May 18, 2006

Feature Article - May 11, 2006

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Feature Article - May 11, 2006

Two halls are better than one

by JeffGreen

Central Frontenac Fire Chief Mark MacDonald said he is committed to building a new fire hall in Mountain Grove by the end of next year, adding that preliminary negotiations are underway to secure a 17-acre parcel of land for a fire hall and centralized training centre for the township’s four fire crews.

MacDonald appeared before Central Frontenac Council on Monday night, and took the opportunity to respond to community concerns that have sprung up since he informed council that the Oso Fire Hall in Sharbot Lake needs to be replaced as soon as possible, at an estimated cost of $500,000.

Eighteen months ago council made a commitment to replace the Olden Fire Hall in Mountain Grove.


“I could have come to council and presented a budget which included two new fire halls this year, and let council face the hard decision, but logistically speaking I knew it would be impossible to build two fire halls in five months,” MacDonald explained, “I was presented with a structural safety issue in the case of Oso and an issue of age and size in the case of Olden.”

Money was placed in fire department reserves in 2004 for the Olden Fire Hall, and that money will remain in place, according to Mark MacDonald. “We are not spending Mountain Grove’s allotment to build Sharbot Lake .”

MacDonald’s comments came about after Councillor Jack Nicolson had presented a series of written questions about the circumstances surrounding the Sharbot Lake Fire Hall. Nicolson and several other councillors were concerned that the matter had not been brought to council’s attention earlier, particularly at the point when the township’s building inspector decided to hire an engineering consultant in order to determine whether the existing Sharbot Lake Fire Hall could be repaired.

Nicolson also questioned the high cost of the proposed Sharbot Lake Fire Hall, and raised the possibility of finding efficiencies by undertaking two fire halls under a single request for proposal.

Even before all of these questions about fire halls were raised, Mayor Bill MacDonald said he thought the matter should be deferred until the council sits down late this week to hammer out their 2006 budget.

“We don’t have all the information we need to proceed, and we will have more to work with when we meet on Thursday to do our budget.” Bill MacDonald said.

The mayor took issue with how the matter has been circulating in public, mentioning a letter from a captain from the Olden crew which was published in the Frontenac News last week. The letter, entitled “Does Amalgamation Work” questioned whether building a new fire hall in Sharbot Lake will lead to putting the Mountain Grove Fire Hall being put off indefinitely.

Bill MacDonald said, “I was disappointed in that letter because it characterises that everything goes to Sharbot Lake . I was disappointed as well that the letter goes right back to amalgamation. I want to respond to the letter by saying council is not opposed to building a fire hall here [in Mountain Grove].”

As of this writing no decisions have been made, although most councillors seem to be resigned to the fact that the Sharbot Lake Fire Hall needs to be replaced this year, and Mountain Grove next year.

The only site for the Sharbot Lake project that has been seriously proposed is the former township garage site on Road 38 south of the village. Fire Chief Mark MacDonald would like to see a one-storey, six-bay fire hall built this year at that location, and a four-bay fire hall built on a 17 acre site in Mountain Grove in 2007.

None of this can be completed without spending some money, and Council is facing these fire hall matters five months before a municipal election.

Council will be attempting to complete their budget deliberations today, Thursday May 11, starting at 3:30 at the Oso Hall in Sharbot Lake (Budget deliberations are open to the public).

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