Callander to explore ice rescue proposal for East Ferris
North Bay Nugget

The Municipality of Callander will draft a proposal to have its local fire department provide ice rescue services for East Ferris.

Council received a report Tuesday from Callander Fire & Emergency Services Chief Todd Daley recommending that an automatic aid agreement be prepared.

The move stems from a request by East Ferris last month to investigate the possibility of an automatic aid agreement involving ice and water rescue.

A report from Daley says the fire department could provide ice rescue without interfering with its current level of service in Callander.

“The proposed fees would cover our costs, would provide ice rescue service to East Ferris, and would meet the mission of the fire department, which is to save lives and protect property (in this case, it is to save lives),” the report said.

Speaking to council, Daley confirmed the next step will be to “work out an agreement that has to be approved by both councils.”

East Ferris Mayor Pauline Rochefort said discussions remain preliminary as possible options are looked at.

But she said there have been concerns from her council about the municipality’s responsibility over areas such as Mink Lake, Lake Nosbonsing and Trout Lake.

“Those matters, we believe, are essential for us to consider, and examine what is our responsibility or obligation,” she said. “So it’s in that spirit that it’s being examined.”

An automatic aid agreement would differ from mutual aid in that the latter is entered into by fire departments to provide reciprocal services without charging fees.

Callander Fire & Emergency Services is part of the Nipissing-Parry Sound mutual aid plan, the report says. But under mutual aid, East Ferris is not able to request ice rescue from Callander because East Ferris does not provide that service itself.

Automatic aid, meanwhile, would allow for a level of emergency response to be provided in another municipality that does not offer it. Fees, either per call, by retainer or both, also could be charged.

At the moment, the proposed fee would be an annual retainer of $500, as well as a per-service cost of $485 per truck per hour, which is the current Ministry of Transportation rate.

North Bay Fire & Emergency Services is the only other department that provides ice rescue response in the area, Daley’s report says. Currently, Callander Fire & Emergency Services does not have an automatic aid agreement with any other municipality.

The fire service has responded to nine ice rescue calls since 2012, all of which were medical related as opposed to removing someone who had fallen through the ice.

Daley says anecdotally, Callander would expect to respond to about the same number of incidents — one or two a year — in East Ferris.

Municipal bylaw says aid can be provided to a neighbouring department at the discretion of the fire chief, even if it doesn’t provide that level of service or has an automatic aid agreement in place. However, Daley states in his report that this should only be used in extraordinary circumstances.

The report goes on to say the Ontario Provincial Police does not do ice rescues but can perform a recovery, which Callander does not provide, if someone cannot be found or has slipped through the ice.

Bylaw enforcement

Council also agreed to make the fire department permanently responsible for bylaw enforcement in the municipality.

The decision follows a one-year piloting of the change.

A report from Daley says net enforcement costs fell to $1,054.70 in 2019 from $1,581.64 in 2018.

The use of a fire department pickup truck and cellphones, as well as the elimination of advertising costs by using social media, have contributed to recent costs savings, along with an approximately two-month gap in enforcement last year to put in place new officers.

As well, no parking tickets were issued for the first four months of 2020 due to a lack of tickets and the COVID-19 pandemic.


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