The City of Greater Sudbury is about 3,600 square km. The former City of Sudbury was about 600 square km. The remaining area consisted of small urban centres that developed next to logging, mining, and farming operations. Their common municipal functions were centralized by a regional government that wrapped the distribution of fire services into seven distinct communities.
Fire services remained community-based until the 2001 amalgamation. Smaller fire services, formed by local, dedicated volunteers, addressed the need. Firefighters are people who give more to their communities. Their initiative symbolized identity, security, and pride due to the levels of service that evolved in honing their skills and from the support of property owners.
That was the situation when amalgamation was enacted.
Those communities were dissolved by amalgamation in 2001 and fire services throughout the 3,600 square km were consolidated into a central service located in the former City of Sudbury.
Since then, the areas outside the former City of Sudbury have been subjected to a takeaway government bureaucracy and an aggressive, bullying union. The takeaway has been tearing apart community pride. A 2017 Fire Optimization Plan presented erroneous information, misrepresenting the needs of those communities. That plan would have destroyed community fire services and increased costs. The 2017 Fire Optimization Plan failed for those reasons.
Property owners in Beaver Lake tried to communicate their needs in a meeting with the bureaucracy. CAO Ed Archer had the arrogance to proclaim he had ultimate responsibility for fire protection. He was quickly corrected and told the ultimate responsibility lies with each property owner.
The city’s role is a response service that meets the needs of the property owners who pay for that service. The city is short 100 volunteer firefighters and stations have been allowed to fall into disrepair. Property owners outside the former City of Sudbury are now at increased risk. Further takeaways are planned, at a higher cost.
The bureaucrats and union refuse to accept their role, aided and abetted by some councillors. They are still proceeding with the grandiose project proposed in 2017, with takeaways and a gradual approach until the plan is a fact instead of a proposal.
Councillors now appear content to rely on an arbitration ruling based on the faulty, failed optimization plan. The lack of respect and discrimination against volunteer firefighters was evident in the February council meeting. The city supports tension, dissent and toxicity in the fire services.
Are the property owners going to accept the further deterioration of the service at increased cost, or are they going to say no to a bureaucracy and a foreign union satisfying their desires with minimal regard for their needs?