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LETTER: NS premier asked to intervene in fire services “fiasco”


We live in Falmouth.  We moved here 11 years ago so that we could spend our retirement years in an area where we grew up, where we still had family and also to be near Halifax for medical reasons.

Feel passionate about something you read or saw in the Journal? Concerned about a decision of council? Why not get it off your chest and write a letter to the editor.

We left Hants County in 1972 for work with Michelin Tire in Pictou County as there were very few job opportunities in Hants County. We watched the Pictou County area blossom as Michelin expanded it's operation. Yes, Michelin received tax incentives from the county and the province but that investment has been returned hundreds of times over.

Forty-three years later we live in Hants County where there are still few job opportunities and as of this date, knowing that within two months time we, especially in Falmouth, will be without an equivalent level of fire service that we have previously had. This is not an incentive for growth in any area, especially here in West Hants where it is badly needed. 

We knew that living in Falmouth we were approximately 3.5 kilometres from a well-trained and experienced fire department who would be at our property in approximately 10 minutes. We have had nothing but excellent service from the Windsor Fire Department, as has all the areas covered by them.

However, in the past five years, the leaders of our West Hants Municipal Council have taken it upon themselves to rid several areas of this effective fire service. Yes, our council says that we will have adequate coverage with a new substation.  We beg to differ.

If our municipal council feels so strongly about this why hasn't it been put to a vote through a plebiscite?  

We feel the West Hants municipal council's goal is to have their own fire department, their own equipment, but manned by who? Everyone in this province knows that volunteer firefighters are hard to find. I was informed, by a government official, that the number of volunteer firefighters had decreased from 9,000 to 6,500 in the last seven years.

We also do not want higher taxes as a result of councillors spending money where it is not needed. A new department will cost millions of dollars that a large portion of taxpayers do not want to spend.

Your minister of Municipal Affairs has declined to step in to assist us, supposedly saying that the problem is clearly a clash of personalities but despite that, West Hants council is a duly elected group and has every right to determine fire coverage for their residents. 

Since when does a clash of personalities entitle anyone to put our safety at risk on such an important issue?

Your Minister also supposedly said his department would be monitoring the situation very closely and reserve the right to act if public safety is an issue and that the province’s ability to intervene is limited in terms of council decisions, but they are able to place a ministerial order to ensure they have a plan to provide that service.

News flash: public safety is an issue!

The West Hants council apparently told your minister they have a plan. However, if they have a plan they are not telling their residents exactly what that is other than to say we will have fire coverage. This is not unusual as our municipal council does not tell the residents much of anything. It would appear also that they do not like to answer any questions the residents may have.

We desperately request that you act now on behalf of the residents in this area to put an end to this fiasco. There is a great deal of unrest in this area and we do not feel our municipal council is acting in our best interest.

If you are not up to date on what has been going on, your minister of Municipal Affairs can fill you in or your municipal advisor for this area. Many of us have had contact with the Municipal Affairs office with no result.

In closing, we know that what is happening in this small area of the province is probably of little importance to you but we are requesting your assistance in this matter.

 

Barb and Malcolm Gould,

Falmouth

 

           

Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Stephen McNeil, the premier of Nova Scotia, and to Hants West MLA Chuck Porter. The letter writers asked that it also be published in the Hants Journal as a letter to the editor.

 

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