LETTER: Fire services mediation must be given a chance

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Editor’s Note: This letter was addressed to West Hants municipal council and sent to a number of other entities, including Premier Stephen McNeil, Mark Furey (the minister of Municipal Affairs), and David Corkum (the president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities). This letter has been modified to meet our style guidelines.

 

I’ve waited to write this, holding out hope that common sense and reason would prevail; that you would see the big picture in what you are trying to accomplish. I think, however, I’ve waited far too long.

A great step was made when it was decided to go into mediation. Unfortunately the remaining steps to lead to a productive mediation process have not occurred.

I attended the June 10 council meeting where Coun. Randy Matheson spoke for a prolonged period of time, not at all on topic of selecting the type of mediation that council would like to enter. He did, however, make his way back to the topic by stating that the Town of Windsor was “sabotaging” mediation by not wishing to participate but their employee is chief and would be. Let me just tell you that in my observation, the only group sabotaging anything is the Municipality of the District of West Hants.

The only way to proceed into mediation successfully and allow a mediator to do their job is to walk in with a clean slate. In order to do this, you must pay your bill, in full. The mediator can review and analyze what you have been charged to see if it is fair. They can then recommend whether you over paid, paid appropriately, or goodness knows, possibly underpaid for the services that WFD has provided. From there you can discuss and work to finding a mutually agreeable method and rate of payment for the future.

By paying your bill in full, it also allows a sigh of relief to be breathed across our great county and town. WFD will continue to serve after 12:01 p.m. on June 30. The service we have come to expect will be there no question. Whether responding to an MVA, medical or fire time is of crucial essence. While Hantsport, Brooklyn, Summerville, Walton, Mt Uniacke, New Ross and Chester are all excellent departments we cannot expect them to reach the areas served by WFD in the same time frame. Not only does this put residents in WFD coverage areas at risk, it is putting the communities you are drawing others from at risk.

I’ve had a theory in all of this; that the real reason you are not concerned for a “Plan B” should WFD truly suspend service is because your great plan is for 911 to contact the neighbouring departments and then immediately dispatch a mutual aid call to WFD. Is that the loophole? I honestly believe that this is the only way this will work. The county does not have to pay mutual aid respondents. I hope my theory is just a matter of my being a cynic and not really a correct gut feeling of the days ahead.

I have to admit I’m not a taxpayer (land/property owner) in this beautiful county. I do, however reside here — for all 34 (almost) years of my life. My family is here, as are friends and colleagues. I volunteer for a few organizations — I was even awarded for these acts this current year. In my role as volunteer, I was asked to communicate with councillors for my area questions that not only for the group I represent, but the community as a whole need the answers to. I received a response from one of them, Coun. Jennifer Daniels, but to my dismay nothing from the other councillor. Even the answer I was given was unacceptable — there is no plan.

Warden Richard Dauphinee: I ask you why you didn’t feel it necessary to respond to a community group. Did you respond to anyone? Is that not your job? I also ask you why you don’t seem to hear comments such as “peanut gallery” as stated by Matheson on June 10, or “sh**” as stated numerous times by Deputy Warden Gary Cochrane and his group of presenters in the horse matter on May 27? Is it not your job to ensure a code of professional conduct of yourself and your peers? You seem quick to reprimand others when their emotions get the best of them.

So, in a roundabout way, I ask that you stop sabotaging mediation and allow the “fresh set of eyes” to do their job. That you return to a professional code of conduct toward your constituents and at meetings. That you remember why you are sitting on council — for the people who a) elected you or b) allowed you to be acclaimed to office.

 

Alicia Wile,

Lower Vaughans

 

Organizations: West Hants municipal council, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, District of West Hants Windsor Fire Department

Geographic location: Windsor, Hantsport, Brooklyn New Ross West Hants Hants County Lower Vaughans

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