Scugog to seek province's help to recoup costs of attending accident scenes
Port Perry Star
 

SCUGOG — Scugog will now be able to turn to the province for help in recovering some of the costs associated with attending accidents on roadways across the township.

At the Feb. 4 municipal committees meeting, councillors endorsed a proposal from Scugog Fire Chief Mark Berney to enrol in the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Authorized Requester Information Services (ARIS) program. The service is used by fire departments when firefighters are unable to obtain the proper billing information at the scene of a motor vehicle incident (such as ownership of the vehicle) that would allow them to recoup some costs related to the call by invoicing those involved.

Essentially, if firefighters cannot secure documents from those involved in a collision, they can just jot down a licence plate number and then pass that along to the province who will provide contact information.

In past years, while police officers may have attended the same accident scene as firefighters, they could not share information with fire departments due to privacy laws.

“Being a community where there’s a lot of commuter, non-resident traffic and incidents happen, where there’s an opportunity to try and recoup costs and not burden the taxpayer, we’ll do that,” said Chief Berney.

Scugog is unique in that it has a pair of provincial roadways (Highways 7/12 and 7A) that run through it, as well as regional and municipal roads.

The township, continued Berney, may look to recoup costs from both non-residents and local residents deemed to be at fault of an accident.

In Scugog’s 2017 schedule for fees, it charged $500 per hour, per truck and manpower per hour, plus $250 per additional half-hour per truck, plus manpower.

Considerations include fuel for the trucks, wear and tear on equipment and the cost of firefighters, said Berney. He noted that an average call, where a dozen firefighters would respond, would cost the township $420 per hour just for manpower.

“Why do we have to burden the taxpayer?” asked the fire chief.

Attending motor vehicle collisions across the township usually makes up more than a quarter of all the calls the Scugog Fire Department attends each year, he added.

Registering for the ARIS program will cost the township $250. Search fees ($14 for a regular query and $20 for a certified document) will be added to any invoice issued by the township.

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