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Furor continues over closing of Rosemère fire service

Create: 04/18/2016 - 20:52

Rosemère mayor Madeleine Leduc faced hostile fire from some residents during the April town council meeting, following the municipality’s decision last month to close the fire department and outsource responsibility to the City of Blainville.
Confrontational meeting
“In the contract which you signed with the City of Blainville, it says that for 2016 the cost is $525,000, but for 2018 it’s 50 per cent more,” said longtime resident Douglas Lemm, a retired former firefighter with Rosemère.
“Also after two years you or them can say we want to renegotiate,” he added. “So after two years it can be renegotiated by either party.”
Leduc responded, “No negotiations during 20 years,” while adding that the wording of the agreement also stipulates that negotiations cannot begin automatically but only under certain conditions. “I just think it’s disgusting what’s happened,” Lemm said, “that you made a unilateral decision and nobody here had a chance to look or evaluate,”
Bilingual service question
His daughter, Shannon Lemm, who works with local Girl Guides and Scouts and has also been involved in local security and volunteer fire prevention, suggested that the mayor’s claim at last month’s council meeting that bilingual service would be continued by Blainville’s fire department isn’t holding up.
“When I was here last meeting I was promised that we would get service in English from Blainville,” she said. “Usually every year we take them (the Guides) to the fire station to get a tour and visit. And so we called the Blainville fire department and asked the same thing – if they could do it bilingual for us – and they say no. They’d only do it in French.”
Leduc said she would have someone verify the claim. Lemm continued. “Last Sunday the third of April I was at church at Ste. Françoise Cabrini just up the street and there was a fire alarm, and it took the fire department 16 minutes to get there on a Sunday morning at 10:30 with no traffic, no rain, no snow.” Leduc told Lemm that she would have someone check.
Mayor defends decision
During the almost equally-charged and boisterous March town council meeting, an official with the Blainville fire department said that based on seven fire calls Blainville had already handled in Rosemère, the average response time was 8.2 minutes. Another town resident, Benoit Beauchesne, asked the mayor pointedly, “Why didn’t you consult us the citizens of Rosemère?”
She answered: “Fire security is an essential service and we decided this since we were elected in 2013 to do management of the town and to give the best services at the best cost. For us fire security was a service which was too important. It involved the security of citizens.
Former councillor backs decision
“It was too important to question for even an hour the security of our citizens by talking about whether it’s going to Blainville or to Rosemère or Bois-des-Filion,” Leduc continued. “So we took the decision because we thought we had received a mandate in 2013 to assure proper financial management.”
In the mayor’s defence, former Rosemère town councillor Claude Roy came to the microphone to say: “I am one of the citizens who agree with your decision, contrary to what’s been said here, and I believe that you have a majority of the population who agree. Therefore you have a majority of the citizens who support your decision.”
Small added cost for English
A clause in the fire services agreement between Rosemère and Blainville stipulates that Blainville is responsible only for the costs of producing French language communiqués and other written materials distributed in Rosemère.
“Responsibility and costs for editing, conceiving, production and distribution in English of this material on the territory of Rosemère is the exclusive responsibility of Rosemère,” states the agreement (translated from French). Although the mayor acknowledged this aspect, she also maintained during the council meeting that the cost will be negligible.

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Martin C. Barry