by John Devine
City Scene Barrie
What a difference two weeks make. When city council last met it was on the verge of sending temporary fire station 5 to community services committee for review. Monday night, council decided against that approach, putting the station back on track for 2012.
Ward 1 Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth had urged council to have a ‘sober second look’ at the need for the temporary station, identified in the Master Fire Plan as a necessary bridge until a permanent station could be built. Two weeks ago the majority of council voted to send it to committee, but that sidetracked when Ward 7 Coun. John Brassard, chair of the fire plan committee, had the item tabled, basically parking it until the next council meeting (Monday’s).
“My intent on tabling the motion was to allow more time for members of council to ask questions about the recommendations of the Master Fire Plan, and it appears that some did and were satisfied that station 5 is needed and (they) were prepared enough to make the decision to move forward,” Brassard told City Scene Barrie.
Moving forward means going back to what had been decided during budget talks. The $2.1 million for the temporary station, including staffing costs, is sitting in reserves waiting to be used to find and build the temporary station next year.
The fire plan had recommended a fifth fire station, to serve the city’s southwest quadrant, as a priority. However, the lack of an appropriate location in the area, not including the newly annexed Innisfil lands which had yet to become part of Barrie when the plan was developed, changed the focus to a temporary site.
A permanent site, including a fire training facility, is planned for somewhere in the annexed lands in about five years.
Ward 4 Coun. Barry Ward supported sending the matter to committee two weeks ago, a position he stayed with Monday night. He told City Scene Barrie that he thought committee was a forum better suited than a council meeting for getting answers to questions being raised.
“As a courtesy, whenever a council member has requested more information and discussion on an issue, we’ve sent a matter to committee. This is especially important when we are dealing with a decision made by a previous council and a new councillor makes the request.
“City council, with its rules covering speakers and lack of input from staff, is not the place to hold such discussions.
“I’m not sure if I would support Coun. Ainsworth’s request for a further analysis of the issue, but (Monday’s vote) wasn’t about the issue itself. For me, it was about whether city councillors should get to have a discussion. The majority of council members decided they didn’t want to discuss the issue. I can live with that. The majority rules.”
The fire plan says a station is needed in the southwest part of the city because response times don’t meet standards adopted by the City of Barrie, calling for 10 firefighters to be on the scene of a call within 10 minutes, 90 per cent of the time. However, that standard is changing in some communities to a strategy called a Fire-Risk Sub Model.
Read this City Scene Barrie story for more information.