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No clear answer for Rescue Squad

The future is unclear on the relationship between the Lloydminster Rescue Squad and the RM of Wilton.

On Friday, Rescue Squad chief Norm Namur appeared in front of the Wilton council to inquire about the council’s stance on the payment of 2016 funding for the squad, as well as ask about their plans to continue using the squad’s services in 2017.

According to the dialogue in the council chamber, no funding for the 2016 year has come from Wilton to the squad as of yet, and answers to the questions posed by Namur were not forthcoming while he stood in front of council. Reeve Glenn Dow informed Namur that council will be discussing the matter, and a reply would be coming ‘shortly’.

As of this writing, $50,000 is owed to the squad by the Wilton government.

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After making his presentation, Namur left the council chambers, and spoke to the press in the parking lot of the Wilton government building. He said he was feeling let down and disappointed.

“They knew we were coming here well in advance, and they knew two of our questions were going to be about funding and whether service will be provided,” said Namur.

“There’s three months left in this year, and there’s been no discussion whatsoever, so I find it pretty odd that nothing has been discussed since then and nothing has been brought forward to our squad.”

Namur also made reference to past negotiations between the squad and Wilton, which took place when Wilton wanted to incorporate the squad into the newly-formed Legacy Regional Protective Services plan. According to Namur, the squad declined to join the agreement due to responsibilities to areas beyond the RM of Wilton, as well as a need to consult the squad on the decision, both of which did not fit into the timeline for the creation of Legacy.

“We’re responsible to the City of Lloydminster, we’re responsible to the County of Vermilion River, and we’re responsible to the R.M of Britannia, so we can’t just dissolve our assets or say one of our trucks is going to go here and one of our trucks is going to go there,” said Norm.

“We have a lot of assets, and we need to make sure that they are placed properly, and that all of Lloydminster is going to be serviced properly.”

Namur also said that ‘life would go on’ for the squad if the RM of Wilton chooses not to use their services in 2017.

“We have no plans to downsize,” said Namur.

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“We still provide ice rescue, water rescue, and when the RM talks about enhanced services, at this point, I’m not aware of them providing any ice rescue, water rescue, or dive or search and rescue. I think that is something long term that they’ll have to look at also.”

Dow also spoke on the matter, following Namur’s presentation to council. According to the reeve, the squad’s concerns were presented ‘quite clearly’. He also blamed the current lack of payment to the squad on a delay in tax collection for 2016, stating that the payment would have traditionally come in June.

“This year has been unusual in that by June we normally have about 60 per cent of our taxes in,” said Dow.

“This year, we have a lot less than that. We’re less than 60 per cent here, coming in to September/October, so that’s one thing. The other point would be that the discussion had regarding the amount for this year was prior to Lloyd Rescue deciding it wanted to remain an autonomous organization.”

Dow also discussed the idea of the Lashburn Fire Department taking over extrication duties in the Wilton area. Tools for the department to take over that role have been purchased, and Dow indicated the squad had been informed that Lashburn would be performing extrication in a previous meeting.

As for the question of whether or not the Lashburn Fire Department would be trained for specialized forms of rescue, Dow was blunt in his assessment.

“I think with the other types of rescue that Lloyd Rescue provides, we are certainly not interested in providing,” said Dow.

“I think there is going to be some kind of an agreement with Rescue for services, if they wish to do that, but we’re not a lot different from the Maidstone Fire Department, that does its extrications, and trusts volunteer organizations to assist with search and rescue and other things.”

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Dow said answers to the squad’s questions would be coming in the next three weeks.

“Several of my councillors’ farm, including myself, so we’re busy, and I like these things to cool down a little bit,” said Dow.

“Obviously, there are some people that are quite concerned. We’re quite concerned too. Give us a little breathing space, and we’ll get the job done. “

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