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Fire dispatch issue smoulders away
GREGG CHAMBERLAIN email@example.com
The future of fire dispatch service continues as a burning issue for several municipalities 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 suggestion met with a cool reception fromboth the other mayors at the UCPR table andalso counties administration. Stéphane Parisien, UCPR chief administrator, 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- Russell, 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.
The fire dispatch service issue continues to smoulder on the tables of municipalities all across the United Counties of Prescott- Russell. —Archives photo
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 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 individual 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 with Ottawa, is that each municipality needs to do a review of its existing fire dispatch communications equipment and relay tower setup. Meanwhile Mayor Charlebois has declared that she wants each of the six municipal councils to send a formal signed letter asking for a service contract extension. “Now they’d like to buy our services until 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 suggestion 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.”
ROPE Squad alert for fugitive Residents in the Ottawa and Five Counties region are asked to keep alert for sightings of a possible fugitive. The Repeat Offender Parole Enforcement Squad (ROPE) issued an alert Sept. 16, on the disappearance of Mohamed Hersi, 29, wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being unlawfully at large. Hersi was serving a sentence of two years and three months on convictions for break-and-enter, weapon assault, robbery, and forcible confinement. He is black, stands six-foot-one, weighs 209 pounds, has black hair, and wears prescription glasses. He is known to frequent the Ottawa and Toronto areas. Anyone seeing Hersi, knowing his whereabouts, or who may have information on him can call the ROPE Squad toll- free at 1-866-870-7673 (ROPE) or the CrimeStoppers toll-free confidential tips line at 1-800-222-8467.
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