| Jul 02, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - July 2, 2009 North Frontenac CouncilBy Jeff Green

Ompah fire hall still on the radar, department assured

Members of the Ompah fire crew had an opportunity to meet with North Frontenac Council on June 25 to talk about the township’s on-again off-again plans to build a new fire hall in Ompah.

It's been almost three years since Mayor Maguire was re-elected, and during the election campaign Maguire, along with all the other candidates, promised to build a new hall in Ompah during the current term of office.

A piece of land in Ompah has been purchased, and money has been put aside to build a hall in recent budget years, but with the township facing shortfalls, only $25,000 was put in the 2009 budget.

Mayor Ron Maguire outlined for the fire crew members how other infrastructure needs in Ompah are slowing down the project.

A report on ambulance needs in rural Frontenac County was recently presented to Frontenac County Council. One recommendation in particular concerns Maguire, that the base located near Ompah be replaced with a base at Hwy. 509 and Ardoch Road in Central Frontenac.

“As a council we rejected the ambulance report,” said Maguire. “We didn't want to see the North Frontenac station go anywhere. We then came up with the possibility of combining a new fire hall with a new ambulance base, and there could be money available to help build. The ambulance report said it costs $750,000 to build a base. That amount of money would go far if combined with building a fire hall.”

Maguire said that the ambulance situation, and others, “led us to believe we can't make a decision this year, which is why we cut some of the contribution towards the fire hall from our budget. But it remains a priority.”

The only dissenting voice on council came from Councillor Wayne Good, who said, “A new fire hall in Ompah is not a priority for me, I look at all the fire halls since we are one township. I look at the halls in Plevna and Snow Road as much as Ompah. If they can do the job so be it.”

The site of the current fire hall, which has been slowly sinking, also houses a community hall and the Ompah library, and the future of those municipal services will need to be considered as well.

While the chances of having a new hall in place before the next municipal election in 16 months are not great, the fire crews came out of the meeting feeling that council is indeed committed to moving forward.

“Our first question was, 'Is the hall still a priority?” said Deputy Fire Chief Steve Dunham, “and you've answered yes to that.”

Dunham also pointed out that the Ompah crew raises over $20,000 each year for equipment, and that they have been looking at plans for fire halls for a few years and have found some relatively cheap alternatives.

“We've done about everything we can do,” he said.

One of the crew members suggested moving forward by developing plans for a building that includes space for a self-contained ambulance base with separate kitchen and shower facilities and a separate entrance.

“If the ambulance falls through, we stick to the fire hall,” he said.

Council and the crew agreed to keep working on the fire hall, and to keep working together through Fire Chief Steve Riddell. 

North Frontenac to write to Municipal Affairs about County

The dispute between North Frontenac Council and Frontenac County took another turn last week, when North Frontenac Council decided to write a letter to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) outlining their grievances.

MMAH is the ministry that oversees municipalities in Ontario.

The issue that has galvanized North Frontenac into action is the makeup of county council, but as Mayor Maguire pointed out last week at a meeting of North Frontenac Council, “The list is long and goes back several years.”

Two weeks ago North Frontenac Deputy Mayor Jim Beam resigned from the County Trails committee over his perception that the committee was being bypassed by county staff in the preparation of a county trails master plan. Then representatives from Central Frontenac and Frontenac Islands also resigned.

Beam told council that he “did have a call from the warden, discussing the issues. I told her the wedge that's been driven is almost beyond repair. She said she would put a resolution on the table on county governance, recommending a council composition of eight, with a weighted vote for South Frontenac, at the county meeting on July 22. I'd like to hold off until then.”

Mayor Maguire did not express much optimism that county governance would be resolved on July 22. “I suppose there is always hope,” he said “but I don’t see the warden getting support from the other two mayors, and she always votes with them anyway. If this thing comes forward in July and it fizzles, it’s pretty well dead.”

For Maguire, the governance debacle is the latest in a string of disappointments with the county. “We’ve seen this over long-term care, over the transportation issue, and we may well see it again before the ambulance issue is resolved. When you add governance and the fact that the trails committee has become a fiasco, it’s time we took some action,” he said.

Council passed the following motion: “Be it resolved the Council of the Township of North Frontenac instructs the Mayor and CAO to lodge a formal complaint with the Minister / Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing by a formal letter of complaint with respect to Council’s ongoing frustration with major issues with the County of Frontenac that directly affect the Township of North Frontenac”.

“This way we can get our grievances on file with MMAH as a first step,” said Deputy Mayor Beam. “In the meantime we can proceed with the County in July before taking any further action.”

Kaladar-Barrie agreement – Plans to re-do the Kaladar–Barrie fire agreement hit a snag when Addington Highlands, North Frontenac’s partner for the fire service, revealed they had not put the necessary funds, $3,000, in their 2009 budget.

North Frontenac wants to get it done, and decided to fund the entire cost by dipping into a reserve fund. They will be asking Addington Highlands to reimburse them for the cost in 2010.

Trillium application – The township will apply to the Trillium Foundation for new boards for the Clar-Mill hockey rink.

River Road water – On the advice of their solicitor, the township will erect a metal sign cautioning the public that the water at the spring at the side of River Road, north of the Ardoch Road, has not been treated. 

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