A special council meeting to discuss the four fire service models turned into the most honest, open, and level headed discussion of the issue city hall had seen up until this point.
After a closed meeting of council the chamber hall filled up with concerned citizens and firefighters who still feel a resolution can be made.
Pam Miller addressed council representing the close to 1,000 people who had signed a petition in the weeks prior. “We believe that since the loss of our volunteer fire department residents and their property are at risk, our tax dollars are being wasted and the new proposed models are not reasonable, practical or cost effective,” said Miller.
[pullquote]We believe that since the loss of our volunteer fire department residents and their property are at risk, our tax dollars are being wasted and the new proposed models are not reasonable, practical or cost effective[/pullquote]“We demand and we are demanding, since requests have gone unheard, that mayor and council resume negotiations with the Dryden Firefighters Association to resolve this situation and return the Dryden Fire Service to its former level of service.”
Miller said she is not saying which side is right or wrong but she and everyone who signed the petition believe the two sides can still come together.
Mayor Greg Wilson said the issue now is that the original policy issue that council was dealing with quickly became an operations issue which is beyond council’s decision making powers.
Councilor Roger Valley stated that this is the largest petition he has seen in recent memory and it would be worth taking it seriously.
When Miller asked why they are considering a new fire service model councilor Nick Beyak had this response. “What were the flaws in the old system? I think we’re all seeing that where there was a walk out, right? There was a suspension of service that left citizens at risk so that was a significant flaw in the old system,” said Beyak.
The discussion of reinstating old members was on the minds of many and Association members voiced their concerns that they had not resigned or received employment history paperwork stressing their desire to return to the fire hall.
CAO Roger Nesbitt made it clear that it was at his discretion who returned or didn’t.
Later in the meeting Treasurer Steven Landsdell-Roll gave an update on the financial impacts since the work stoppage. Originally, five firefighters were brought in with a cost to the city of $22,000 in March and $27,000 in April.
Currently there are three contract firefighters and the projected cost for May is $16,500.
The treasurer said the housing budget is about $5,800. Looking at legal fees, Lansdell-Roll notes that the City has incurred $5,000 in expenses by the end of March, about $6,000 in April and an estimated $2,000 could be incurred in May.
The City of Dryden is still considering four service delivery models, with a plan to vote on one model at the May 28 meeting of council.