Opinion

Penticton City Council response time lagging

There is no question that the Penticton Fire Department’s first responders move fast. Nor that they are busy, with more than 2,000 calls per year, ranging from assistance to life-saving.

It’s a shame that Penticton City Council can’t move as decisively. Last Nov. 5, Fire Chief Wayne Williams came before them, asking for the body to approve an agreement with the Emergency and Health Services Commission so the firefighters could continue this valuable service.

“Our first responder licences are expected to expire in early 2013,” Williams told council at the time. “We need a signed agreement in order to receive free supplies and free training from the Justice Institute and authorization from the commission.”

Williams had hoped to start the training before Christmas so the licence testing could be done in January, telling council that time was running out.

After heated debate over the value of the program, which the PFD budgets $10,000 for, council still chose to defer their decision for a month citing both a desire to wait for the fire services core review, and concerns that via the first responders program, the city was taking on a share of the responsibilities of the provincially funded ambulance service.

Two months later, and Williams was before council again, Monday night, with the same contract in hand. This time, after only a limited discussion, council agreed to endorse it.

The contract wasn’t changed. The Fire Services review still hasn’t come before council. So what was the purpose of waiting two months to approve a necessary agreement?

It’s well and good for council to be concerned about provincial versus municipal costs. But when it comes to a service that for 23 years has been saving lives, and lessening the effects of injuries, accidents and illnesses, council needs to look to its deeper responsibilities to ensure the community has necessary services.

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