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Saint John neighbourhood, firefighters, reeling after city votes to slash budget
SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- Cuts are coming to the Saint John Fire Department as the city struggles to balance its budget.
Right now, there are seven fire stations across Saint John, N.B., but that number will soon be reduced to six with Fire Station No. 8 now set to close.
"The guys are just trying to absorb, there are going to be some young families affected by the decisions here today," said Craig Melvin, the president of the Saint John Fire Association.
The decision to shut down the station was made at a virtual meeting of common council on Monday night, as was the decision to reduce the number of firefighters by 24.
"Just like any household, we must live within our means," city manager John Collin said Monday night.
The cuts will slash $1.8 million from the city's budget in a bid to deal with the city's projected $10-million deficit.
"We have explored every option for alternatives," said Saint John Mayor Don Darling. "We've lobbied and worked with the provincial government for the tax reform and the other reforms that we need and we've run out of options."
Fire Station No. 8 in the Millidgeville neighbourhood is one of two fire stations in the city's north end; the other is about 2.5 kilometres away.
"(Monday) night, you would have heard the chief say it adds about three-and-a-half-minute response into that area," Melvin said. "Now remember, that would be from the nearest fire station on Adelaide, provided that that truck is not already out on a call, and that is to the fire station itself."
Glen Ingraham is a longtime resident of Millidgeville. He lives not far from the fire station and is disappointed with the planned closure.
"I don't think it's a good decision," Ingraham said. "I think by removing that, it's just a Catch-22 … lowering our property value by it being gone. But with lower property value, we're not paying as much into taxes, so not enough is going back into the city to pay for these things."
The city says a date for closure will be set for the fire station once a transition plan is put into place.