Witless Bay lowers fire protection fees

·2 min read

The Town of Witless Bay has voted to lower fire protection fees.

To support a new multi year fire investment plan, which included the building of a new regional fire hall and new training grounds, along with the purchase of new equipment, and investments in training and recruitment, along with the hiring of a full-time fire chief, the Town of Witless Bay had raised the fire protection fee from $90/ household (plus a 911 fee of $5 to $10) to a flat $180.

“Following further consultation and input from regional partners, the Town identified a revised household rate of $155, not just for other communities, but for Witless Bay as well,” said councillor Dale O’ Driscoll during the February 9 meeting of council.

“This was accomplished by extending the term of proposed Fire Hall borrowing from 10 to 15 years and several other adjustments within the proposed 2021-2025 Fire Department budget,” explained O’ Driscoll.

He further said that that regional partners had been advised of the revised fee structure last week, and that all partners have agreed to the new fee structure. In fact, the Town of Bay Bulls had voted to accept the $155 fee during their council meeting the night prior. He also said that, in order to leverage government funding on a 70/30 basis under the Municipal Capital Works program, the project must be regional and would require regional partners to indicate support for the project through a Memorandum of Agreement.

Later in the meeting, council voted to retain LW Consulting to oversee recruitment of a paid fire chief for the volunteer fire department.

Part of the process will involve a meeting with the regional fire service committee, as the chief will serve the region.

“It’s not going to be the Town of Witless Bay fire chief, it’s going to be a regional fire chief for the whole department, so there should get input from other partners,” said O’ Driscoll.

Vince Swain appealed to the need of hiring the full-time chief.

“There’s too much work for the whole regional area for a fire chief that’s working a full-time job and trying to do this on a part time basis,” said Swain.

In 2019, volunteers responded to 190 calls for service; up from 161 calls in in 2016.

Communities served by the fire department include Bay Bulls, Tors Cove, Bauline, and Mobile, Burnt Cove St. Michael’s.

Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News