Showing support: Cape Breton communities call on municipality to reconsider amalgamating four fire departments
PORT MORIEN, N.S. -- Residents in four rural Cape Breton communities are calling on the municipality to reconsider proposed plans to close their fire departments.
“With our membership it’s that there are grave concerns about response times and a degrade in fire protection services in our area, if amalgamation was to go forward.” Says James Bates, Fire Chief of the Port Morien Volunteer Fire Department.
A meeting was held last Sunday, between municipal officials and members from Birch Grove, Tower Road, Donkin and Port Morien.
All four communities have been listed by the CBRM for potential amalgamation, in favour of one central fire department.
Bates says since a story aired initially on CTV Atlantic, community support has poured in, including from retired fire officials.
“We continue to ask our community members, if you have concerns, questions to reach out to their councillor or to any member of the fire department and we will share information we have,” says Bates.
James Edwards, councillor for the area, was also part of Sunday's meeting.
Edwards says amalgamation is not the only option being considered and that the municipalities main concern is improving services and safety.
“The reason CBRM started with Port Morien and Donkin is because of the obvious concern we have here with the Port Morien Fire Department. It needs a lot of work,” says Edwards.
The Port Morien Volunteer Fire Department has been dealing with subsidence issues for about three years, which has caused the foundation to crack, walls inside to divide and mold to form where moisture is getting in.
But Chief Bates says that shouldn't have anything to do with closing his department.
“If we’re going to go around the municipality and look at buildings or facilities that need repairs and have that the basis on whether we are going to start closing fire departments and doing amalgamation, I think we’re looking at it for the wrong reason,” says Bates.
The CBRM says they're listening to volunteer departments, hearing about their challenges and ensuring communications channels are open about ways to improve the service.