Jeff Green | Jul 14, 2011
It will be mid-August at the earliest before Frontenac County Council makes any kind of decision about the location of an ambulance base to serve the residents of North and parts of Central Frontenac.
At their July 6 meeting, Frontenac County Council received for information a report from their Chief of Land Ambulance Services, Paul Charbonneau, which recommended putting the decision off until Lennox and Addington County decides what to do with their own base in Denbigh, because this will have an impact on responses in Frontenac County.
While Lennox and Addington County Council received a report last month by the IBI consulting group, which recommends that the Denbigh base close, there is no indication that the future of the Denbigh base will be decided any time soon, although a delegation from Denbigh is scheduled to appear at L&A County meeting on July 27.
For now, according to Mike Schjerning, Chief of Emergency services for Lennox and Addington, his staff is only considering options related to finding a location for a new base in Northbrook. The county lease on the property where the Northbrook base is located ran out on June 30, 2011 and the county has exercised an option to renew that lease for two years, at which time they will have to find a new home because the landlord has indicated that the building will no longer be available to them.
“The availability of land in the Northbrook area will obviously be a factor in determining where we locate that base. We are starting to look for a location now,” said Schjerning when interviewed over the phone.
All of this puts the future of a proposed ambulance base/fire station in Ompah into further doubt.
North Frontenac Mayor Bud Clayton proposed a motion of his own to Frontenac County Council, which would have seen the Ompah project go ahead this year. While Frontenac County Council and North Frontenac Township still have not come to an agreement over cost sharing for the project, Clayton's motion proposes a 50/50 split in operating and construction costs, with North Frontenac covering all of the land and septic costs, as well as the cost of a well and pump.
While this motion was presented to Frontenac County Council on July 6, it was only in the form of a notice of motion, and was not slated to be considered until the next meeting of county council on August 17.
Clayton did not want to wait until then to have his motion considered by the council, and wondered why Paul Charbonneau's recommendations, on the other hand, could be considered right away.
“I find it unacceptable that a member of council must wait two months to have a motion considered, but an employee of the county can bring a motion forward and it gets voted on right away,” he said.
“The council can bring a notice of motion forward for consideration at any time with a 2/3 vote,” said County Chief Administrative Officer Liz Savill.
Mayor Clayton asked that his motion be brought to a vote right away.
“We are losing the building window for this year by delaying this,” he said.
In a recorded vote, Council members John Inglis (North Frontenac), David Jones and Dennis Doyle (Frontenac Islands), and John Purdon (Central Frontenac), as well as Clayton himself supported the motion. It was opposed by council members Janet Gutowski (Central Frontenac), John McDougall (South Frontenac) and Gary Davison, who as mayor of South Frontenac, has two votes. The final tally was 5 votes in favour to 4 against.
Although Clayton's request to bring his motion forward was supported by the majority of council, it did not receive a 2/3 majority and was declared defeated.
All of this leaves the fate of the Ompah base in a continuing state of limbo.
County council will be able to consider Bud Clayton's proposal when they meet in August, but it will come forward in the context of both Paul Charbonneau's reluctance to move forward until the Denbigh situation is clarified, and a continuing disagreement over a fair way of sharing the costs of the building.
Warden Gary Davison said, “I don't see how with a 1,500 square foot ambulance base and what looks like a 2,500 square foot fire station, the costs should be shared 50/50. That doesn't add up to me. And since it is the City of Kingston that pays 80% of the capital costs for all ambulance bases we build, I don't know how we can justify this to them.”
North Frontenac Township has taken the position that because anticipated construction costs for a fire hall are lower than they are for an ambulance base ($128 per square foot as compared to $195 for an ambulance base according to figures quoted by Paul Charbonneau in March), the 50/50 cost split is more viable.
Using those construction cost figures, the cost would be $292,500 for the ambulance base portion, and $320,000 for the fire hall.