City Hall saw some debates this week as Councillor Rick Dubeau and Mayor Steve Black went head-to-head over an issue stemming from a potential fire hall amalgamation. The issue began with a pitch to relocate the Whitney Fire Hall to the proposed EMS Complex at Northern College. This comes as council voted against amalgamating the Whitney and South Porcupine fire brigades at the end of March.
That decision prompted the city to talk to volunteer firefighters to see if they would be interested in the Northern College amalgamation. That happened before city council got a say, which Councillor Rick Dubeau calls backwards.
He says it’s case of chicken before the egg; administration from the city approached the volunteer firefighters before coming to city council. He says council members had to find out about the plan on the streets, which shouldn’t happen. Dubeau is suggesting council should have been approached first to see if they were receptive to the plan, instead of the other way around. Dubeau says a step was skipped, it doesn’t make sense, and it is disrespectful to council members.
However, Mayor Steve Black says he talks to city staff about a variety of proposals every day, and if they feel it warrants coming to city council for direction then they do so. He says in this case, city staff didn’t feel it was necessary to come back to the council table unless a discussion was had with the volunteer firefighters. He says they were willing to pursue the relocation, and so it was brought to council.
In the end, council gave the green light to pursue the opportunity further, once the college details their final plans and secures funding.