Morris-Turnberry votes to buy into Brussels FD - May 11, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Morris-Turnberry, pending the approval of the Ontario Fire Marshal, will be buying a portion of the Brussels Station of the Huron East Fire Department.
The agreement, which was approved during Morris-Turnberry’s May 2 meeting, will see Morris-Turnberry pay for 45 per cent of the assets of the Brussels Fire Department, five per cent higher than the 40 per cent buy-in that had originally been suggested.
During the meeting, Chief Administrator-Treasurer Nancy Michie explained the increase was due to Morris-Turnberry’s assessment comprising 49 per cent of the department’s coverage area.
The increase results in Morris-Turnberry paying $315,900 towards the hall, $180,900 of which is existing infrastructure and $135,000 for a new truck being purchased.
Morris-Turnberry will be paying 45 per cent of operation for the site as well, which is estimated to cost $58,767.
After the buy-in, Michie said the move would save the municipality approximately $20,000 annually compared to have a full-time fire prevention officer on staff.
Provincial legislation states that municipalities need certain fire services and Morris-Turnberry had a Fire Prevention Officer until earlier this year when he resigned, leading the municipality the choice of rehiring him or pursuing a partnership with Huron East.
The agreement had been discussed during in-camera sessions, however after Huron East discussed negotiations publicly, Morris-Turnberry Mayor Paul Gowing decided to bring his council’s discussions into open council session.
In her report on the issue, Michie explained that changes had been made to the agreement since Morris-Turnberry had sent it to Huron East including the increase in cost/ownership. She also stated that a change making sure that Morris-Turnberry had representation at meetings be considered.
One of the changes discussed by council was the fact that, if Morris-Turnberry decided to dissolve the agreement the municipality had no claim to the assets or value of the station despite its buy-in.
If, however, Huron East decides to end the agreement, Morris-Turnberry is entitled to compensation.
Council discussed the issue and, despite some concern with the potential loss if Morris-Turnberry decided to leave, felt the agreement was favourable.
“There is some history for the provision,” Mayor Paul Gowing said. “We’re approaching them to go into the agreement and, if after going through all this, we don’t want to be involved, that’s our decision.”
He went on to say he saw nothing wrong with it and would structure the deal the same if he was on the other side.
Councillor Dorothy Kelly and Gowing agreed it was a non-issue as they didn’t feel they would pull out of the agreement.
“This is a big step,” Gowing said. “Unlike many smaller things, it had little debate, and that is a real breath of fresh air. We’re going to see numerous savings and efficiencies and have always had great service from Huron East.”
Councillor John Smuck agreed, saying other joint ventures like landfill services have worked well with Huron East.
Council approved the agreement pending the Fire Marshal’s input.
As part of Michie’s report, she suggested telling North Huron and Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh that Morris-Turnberry would no longer be providing Fire Prevention Services as of May 31, however it was decided to defer the announcement until after a meeting with the Ontario Fire Marshal. If the meeting goes well and the Fire Marshal approves the plan, the announcement will be made as soon as possible.