Editorial: What a difference a year makes

The results of the surveys/referenda regarding Deep River police and fire services and what they mean are the main discussion points at just about any public gathering recently. Are they just surveys and need not be acted upon by council? Are they referenda that provide a mandate to council?

The police and fire surveys were held a year apart. A clear majority (64 per cent) carried the survey vote to keep the local police service. In the fire survey, 89 per cent voted to go to arbitration to seek a further reduction in the number of firefighters. If the town lost, then council was to disband the fire department and adopt the same public education/prevention fire service model that Head, Clara, and Maria has. This means no firefighters and no firefighting services.

Before the fire survey, Deep River council stated in a June 2016 newsletter, “If (we are) unsuccessful in reducing the number of full-time firefighters and associated costs, (we will) consider steps to transition the existing fire service model to education and prevention only. (The) result will be no fire suppression services…” The fire survey ended June 20, 2016. On June 21, 2016, the very next day, the town stated that, based upon the results of the survey, “We will respect the wishes of our residents and will direct the town’s resources toward (arbitration).”

Deep River council has not been so hasty a year later and will meet tonight (July 12) to discuss the next steps for the police service (stay local or go OPP) after receiving the results of the police survey held two weeks ago. Why the same haste was not made with regard to the police survey results as the one for the fire service is unknown. Why has Deep River council not made the same haste to formally announce they will respect the wishes of their residents and keep the local police service? Indeed, council took the results delivered by the fire survey as an “overwhelming mandate” and acted upon it the next day.

With significant tongue in cheek, this editor asks when will Deep River council formally announce the disbandment of the fire department as they promised in June 2016 if they lost the fire arbitration (which they did)? Moreover, what will the impact be upon the hospital, long-term care facilities and businesses when no firefighters respond to a 911 call? How much will the fire portion of your home or business insurance change when your insurance company is informed there is no responding fire department in Deep River? Perhaps you could use your tax savings to pay for any insurance premium increase?

If the fire department is disbanded, what will you do when your house catches fire and no firefighters respond? What a difference a year makes!