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LETTER: Setting priorities will solve West Hants fire services dispute


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Municipal councils are sworn into office after being elected by the ratepayers for a term of office. They then have a duty to set the tax rate for various types of properties in their jurisdiction and to administer the spending of those funds for, in the majority of instances, services to properties within that municipality. In this instance, it is the District of the Municipality of West Hants.

Most rural areas in Nova Scotia have volunteer fire departments to cover fire protection services for their communities. In our community, it is the Windsor Fire Department providing volunteer services. Only the chief is a paid employee.

Now having operated for 60 years in this community, it is judged to be one of the best on the continent. I have heard only congratulations for their services to this community.

Volunteer fire departments are funded by taxes raised in the municipalities they serve, by donations, by fundraising, by auxiliary members, and maybe by grants from other governments. They do not have shareholders to whom they are beholden. They contract their services and accept responsibility to provide fire protection services. They also may contract with other local fire departments to cover each other in a mutual aid capacity when called upon.

My question is this: If an essential service is not under contract to the District of Municipality of West Hants and has not been under contract for four successive years, and since the West Hants municipality has not paid for this service for the past year, and since they are relying on the good will of the Windsor Fire Department to continue to provide this service, does this fulfill the duty of council to provide fire protection services to their ratepayers? 

The need for, and provision of, reliable, competent, fire services protection will trump the need for receipts for expenses any day when one sets priorities.

 

Isabel Palmeter,

Windsor

 

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