By Stephen Dafoe
Sturgeon County – The Bon Accord Fire Department will soon join Calahoo and Namao Fire Departments under Sturgeon County’s umbrella. County Council voted unanimously Jan. 10 to providing administrative and operational support to the Town of Bon Accord for fire services.
Sturgeon County Fire Chief Pat Mahoney told Council the County was approached in mid-June by the Bon Accord fire chief who said he was stepping down for personal reasons. Mahoney said there was an inherent lack of willingness, experience and capacity to take on the responsibility of fire chief among those who remained at the department, a situation that lead to several discussions between himself and Bon Accord’s chief administrative officer.
Bon Accord Mayor Randy Boyd was present at the Jan. 10 meeting of County Council. He told councillors the request for Sturgeon County to take over administrative and operational control of the department had his council’s support.
“We need to maintain that service for the safety of residents,” Mayor Boyd said, adding he felt it was an extremely large step but the right step for both communities. “This also provides the continuity that’s always been there. As council, we unanimously approved it and we believe strongly it is the direction to go to make it work for all of us.”
Sturgeon County currently houses two fire vehicles within the Bon Accord Fire Department and provides $140,000 in annual funding for fire services in the community. The department responds to approximately 100 calls per year, 95 per cent of which are in Sturgeon County.
Mahoney told Council that due to the majority of calls taking place in the County, the continued operation of the Bon Accord Fire Department was essential to County fire and emergency services.
In response to a question from Councillor David Kluthe, Chief Mahoney said he did not anticipate additional costs being incurred by the County. Revenue from calls from existing fire vehicles would add to County revenues whereas now the County is billed by Bon Accord when they respond to calls in the County.
“It’s our intention to make the Bon Accord Fire Department a carbon copy of what we have in Namao and Calahoo,” Mahoney said. “I’m not asking for any more new funds at this point.”
Mahoney went on to say he does not anticipate Bon Accord residents would note any changes to services as the shift to County control would largely be administrative.
In addition to acquiring additional fire apparatus, Sturgeon County will gain a fire training facility which will be developed to serve current and future firefighters from departments throughout Sturgeon County.
Councillor’s Tom Flynn and Joe Milligan expressed their approval of the move prior to voting.
“I think this is an excellent move, an example of inter-municipal cooperation,” Flynn said. Councillor Milligan shared that sentiment. “I think this is a really good step towards cooperation between the municipalities,” he said.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the agreement. Mayor Don Rigney was absent from Council Chambers during the vote.
Now that Council has approved the agreement, the County will meet with the Bon Accord Fire Department to discuss the transition of responsibilities and duties.