Sudbury will go ahead with public consultations over the future of the city’s fire stations

The City of Greater Sudbury will move forward with public consultations over the future of its fire stations. 

This follows a report put before council in December, which looked at the ideal number and location of fire and paramedic stations across the city. The report was prepared by outside consultant Operational Research in Health Limited (ORH) and recommended consolidating 11 of the city’s volunteer-staffed fire stations. 

The report identified volunteer fire stations in Vermilion Lake, Beaver Lake, Skead, Falconbridge, Val Caron, Hanmer and Copper Cliff as prime candidates for consolidations.

The contentious proposal to amalgamate fire stations isn’t new and can be traced back to 2017. 

When someone calls 911 they don’t ask where the truck, ambulance or cruiser is coming from they just want to know when the vehicle and emergency personnel will arrive.— Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh

The city’s director of communications Marie Litalien, told council the consultations are expected to begin by the end of February and will include both online and in-person events. Many of the open house events will happen at community fire stations. 

“My hope for this public consultation has always been about learning more and hearing from residents but not just about their concerns … but also for finding solutions or at least having the opportunity to suggest them and maybe get answers,” said Natalie Labbée, councillor for Ward 7. 

Discussion over the fate of the city’s fire halls and potential effects on communities wasn’t quieted easily, as several councillors renewed their concerns. 

On behalf of constituents Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti raised concerns over the potential for the closures to affect property insurance rates for people in certain areas, who would be farther from a fire hall, as a result of the consolidations. 

“The other comment was, ‘how does that affect getting a mortgage or refinancing for a mortgage,” Signoretti said. 

Ward 1 Councillor Mark Signoretti renewed concerns made by residents about fire insurance and mortgages. (Yvonne Theriault/Radio-Canada)

“As far as difficulty in gathering insurance, based on the fire station, its location and its ability to provide protection … we have residents who live many, many kilometres away from the available fire stations of today, who are able to secure fire insurance. Although I’m sure their rates do not compare to others in that category,” said Jesse Oshell, Greater Sudbury’s deputy fire chief in response to Signoretti. 

Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini echoed Signoretti’s concerns, “There is a huge rural area that is going to be completely affected by this.” 

After years of debate, Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh voiced her support for the plan to consult and inform the public. 

“Over the past five years we’ve been told by emergency services staff, our auditor general, and now an outside consultant that we can operate our fire and paramedic services with fewer halls and, I believe, less equipment with no reduction in staffing and no significant impact on response times.” 

“When someone calls 911 they don’t ask where the truck, ambulance or cruiser is coming from they just want to know when the vehicle and emergency personnel will arrive,” she said.