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Backlash in Rosemère council over closing of fire service

Create: 03/21/2016 - 21:02

An overflow crowd of more than 100 Rosemère residents with heightened concerns following the announced closing of the town’s fire department turned up at town hall last Monday evening for the monthly municipal council meeting.
Average response is 8.2 mins.
During the emotionally-charged and boisterous meeting, an official with the Blainville fire department, which has taken over fire safety coverage for Rosemère, said that based on seven fire calls Blainville had already handled in Rosemère, the average response time was 8.2 minutes.
Two petitions were tabled: one with 1,700 names was gathered online, while another with 6,267 names was compiled by firefighter union officials going door-to-door and canvassing in public places in the days leading up to the town council meeting.
Questions over consultation
During residents’ question period, an issue that came up repeatedly was why town officials never consulted residents on something as crucial as the closing of the fire department.
“Since fire protection is an essential service, the decision we took was because we could not negotiate this type of thing in public,” said Mayor Madeline Leduc. “We believe it was in the interests of the public and in keeping with sound management of taxpayers’ money.”
Shannon Lemm asked the mayor whether the Blainville fire department will be sending notices to English-speaking Rosemère residents that conform to Rosemère’s status as an officially-bilingual municipality. “We want to make sure that everything will be bilingual,” said Lemm. “Yes, I’m sure about that,” Leduc replied.
Gradual loss of services
Lemm also asked the mayor whether Rosemère solicited fire service offers from North Shore municipalities other than Blainville. “We discussed with all of the departments during the last year,” said the mayor, adding that the best offer was the one made by Blainville.
Michel Paré said he was saddened that Rosemère appeared gradually to be losing its services. “Soon my concern is whether it’ll be public works that gets transferred to Blainville or to Bois-des-Filion,” he said. “I don’t understand what’s going on. As a Rosemère taxpayer I am worried.” Leduc responded that Rosemère closely analyzed all its services before deciding it was more efficient and cost-worthy to outsource fire protection rather than maintain a fire department.
Leduc: no staff for weekends
During the council meeting, debate raged over the amount of coverage the Rosemère fire service had been providing prior to the decision. While some of those defending the department’s record insisted the coverage was effectively 24/7, Leduc maintained she was called three times last year by town officials who told her there were no firefighters available for weekend shifts.
“We had a lot of trouble getting firefighters to be on-call to cover nights,” she said, while adding that Blainville was asked in some of those instances to provide coverage for three consecutive weekends.

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Martin C. Barry