Fire dispatch issue smoulders away

The fire dispatch service issue continues to smoulder on the tables of municipalities all across the United Counties of Prescott-Russell. —photo archives


agreement with the other Prescott-Russell communities must be as a single regional contract. It is not interested in having to work out the details for several new indivi- dual contracts. This leaves the other six municipalities needing an extension agreement for at least 18 months with Hawkesbury for continued fire dispatch service. Part of the reason, besides working out some kind of regional arrangement withOttawa, is that eachmuni- cipality needs to do a review of its existing fire dispatch communications equipment and relay tower setup. MeanwhileMayor Charlebois has decla- red that she wants each of the sixmunicipal councils to send a formal signed letter asking for a service contract extension. “Now they’d like to buy our services un- til they don’t need us anymore,” explained Mayor Charlebois during a phone interview Sept. 16. “So I have asked for a letter from each of them as our clients. I’ll wait for the letters.” The original resolution fromHawkesbury town council to the UCPR included a sug- gestion that the counties should also take on 911 emergency call service as a regional program. Right now the UCRP contracts with the OPP for 911 service through a bilingual setup out of the OPP’s Orillia station. All sides agree discussion is needed to try to resolve the situation. Mayor Gary Barton of Champlain Township was the spokesman for the other municipalities at the beginning of the whole fire dispatch service issue. He observed during a phone interview Sept. 15 that both sides need to work together to reach a settlement. “We’re all in this together,” he said, “and we all need to co-operate with each other. To get something to happen, we’ll have to work something out.”

The future of fire dispatch service continues as a burning issue for several municipali- ties in Prescott-Russell. Hawkesbury Mayor Jeanne Charlebois delivered her town council’s resolution on the matter to her fellowmayors at the Sept. 13 committee of the whole session for the United Counties of Prescott-Russell (UCPR). Hawkesbury town council wants the UCPR to take on fire dispatch as a regional service but the suggestionmet with a cool reception from both the other mayors at the UCPR table and also counties administration. Stéphane Parisien, UCPR chief adminis- trator, explained, during both the counties session and during a later interview, that fire dispatch service is the responsibility of individual municipalities and not a duty of the counties. “It’s not up to the counties to take over fire dispatch,” he said. “And why would we take over something with no clients?” Hawkesbury has provided bilingual fire dispatch service for several years for itself and six other communities in Prescott-Rus- sell, as well as for North Glengarry and North Stormont townships. Those two townships have now switched to Cornwall for their dispatch service and that has since raised the individual cost share for the six Prescott- Russell municipalities who still contract with Hawkesbury. Now they are all thinking of following the example of the City of Clarence-Rockland, which contracts with Ottawa’s fire dispatch program. Clarence-Rockland has been part of the Ottawa fire dispatch system since 2000. Hawkesbury has also made inquiries on its own to Ottawa. The problemnow is that the City of Ottawa has stated that any new fire dispatch service

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