By Michael Christianson
The Centre was full on May 9 but it wasn’t music or a play that brought people out that evening, it was the potential closure of Fire Hall #2.
City council’s recommendation to close the former Barclay Fire Hall was met with much resistance and the city decided to hold a public meeting so that everyone who had issues with the closure had a chance to speak.
The first ones to speak from the floor were Gus Kropf and Al Wice. The pair are leading a group representing former Barclay residents. Their presentation outline recommendations for keeping the hall open including recruiting new volunteers, the group has already signed up 13 interested citizens.
“I’m here because I care about Dryden. I’m here because the closure of Fire Hall 2 targets, discriminates and penalizes a portion of our citizens; no one should have to tolerate that,” said Kropf. “Please let’s keep Fire Hall 2 open and together let’s find a solution.”
The group read aloud an article from a November 2013 Dryden Observer in which Fire Chief Ken Kurz was not in favour of the closure.
“We have the two fire halls for a reason and it’s responding to emergencies,” Kurz explained in the article. “Everyone likes to think about fire because that’s our name. However, we’re going to far more rescues, other types of rescues than we are fires. That’s where we need to show that. Even in a fire case, you’d like a fire truck to get there that can do damage control as soon as possible.”
Wice said the closure of Fire Hall #2 would lead to parts of the city being unprotected, uninsurable and that it would erode family budgets, savings and financial security.
“It’s our opinion that nothing has changed since those quotes, relative to safety issues, what has changed is an aggressive and a very determined approach the city has been taking to resolve the dire financial situation, we are grateful for this and admire your efforts, however closing Fire Hall 2 is the wrong thing to do. We are asking everyone on council to put themselves in place of residents who have to pay more for the same level of service and fire protection than their next-door neighbor, hundreds or thousands more, we understand stresses you face regarding the management of the budget but relative to fire and safety you need to balance the fiscal conscience with the social conscience and say no to closure.”
Many East Dryden residents took the opportunity to speak after the delegation had their say. Citizens were concerned for their safety, questioned their lack of services and told council about the costs they already incur and how much they expected their insurance costs to rise.