Fire chief feeling discouraged

O'Connor Township, Ont. — Volunteers are hard to come by and sometimes even harder to retain.

O’Connor Township is finding that out with their volunteer fire department in recent memory.

At Monday’s regular council meeting, it was one volunteer firefighter out and two new faces in as O’Connor Township fire department chief Henry Mattas lamented there’s been a lack of attendance.

“No members showing up and it’s been like this for awhile,” Mattas said. "It’s been discouraging.

“I don’t know what the problem is. We’ve got two new members that have joined, but it’s bothering me bad.

“It’s not good. You don’t know who’s coming or whatever.

“A new member comes and I talk to them about the fire department and what we have, this and that. But most people probably don’t know what the fire department is all about and the responsibilities. When you sign up, you’re committed to us . . . the guys got to come to training. I don’t know what’s happened.”

Council accepted the resignation of one volunteer firefighter member and added two more onto the force at Monday’s meeting.

A contentious issue pertained to a loan for renovations for their Shop B garage as council and administration battled over where the money would come from to pay for the project.

“We’ve got gas tax money, (other monies) that we can’t use towards this issue over (at the Shop B garage),” O’Connor Township Mayor Jim Vezina said. “We’ve got to find somewhere else to spend that money. In the interim, we’ve got all these debts we’ve got to service.

“It makes no sense from a financial point of view. If this was a family, there’s no way you’d think like that.”

Council also debated a reply from Northwestern Ontario Recreational Trails Association president Len Day regarding using the township’s roads for their trail system proposal. Although council is mostly in favour of the project, it was voted on to draft a letter to O’Connor Township residents who would be affected by their roads becoming a trail option and what kind of feedback they could offer.

Also discussed in new and old business was attendance at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Northern CAO-Clerks forum starting Wednesday, Emergency Management Ontario spring sector meeting/Northwest response forum set for April 3-6 in Dryden and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association conference runing April 26-28.

John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle-Journal