Concerns about moving Oakley Firehall
Bracebridge Councillor, Barb McMurray, expressed concerns about considerations in the 2023 budget report for the relocation of the Oakley firehall, in the General Committee meeting on February 28, 2023.
McMurray expressed concern about Huffington indicated as an option for a new location for the station, and indicated that the current location is in a central spot for the Township residents and cottagers, and that moving it would mean “taking protection away from the community.” She added, “If you need to build a new fire hall then build a new one.”
McMurray expressed the fire hall which covers Oakley and Bracebridge is currently needed where it is, and that a “better perspective” is needed regarding where a fire hall is located. She added, “Don’t take that one away. Build a new one.”
CAO, Stephen Rettie, advised that the suggestion for the fire station was a result of a study completed that an assessment of different locations be considered prior to moving it to a different location. He added, “No decision has been made, only an assessment of possible acquisitions, and ideas regarding locations.”
Fire Chief, Murray Medley, said there were “no procured ideas as to exactly where the station would go. Huffington is one site considered. The Business Plan refers to continuing the search.”
According to Medley, in 2009 an audit led to considerations such as renovations or rebuilding the facility, and that this is just a continuation. He said, “I think we have to move forward with this.”
Councillor, Don Smith, indicated that the data collected shows the number of people that benefit from the current location of the station along with the amount of people that would benefit from it being in other areas.
Medley said, “We will continue to compile data regarding response times, available staff, and in-depth studies to determine the best location.”
McMurray indicated that approximately 90% of the firemen in the current location live there. She added, “If it moves out of the Township the firefighters leave Oakley and drive to the new location, and return to Oakley to protect people in Oakley.” She said this needs to be considered, and added, “I’m really fearful that the population protected right now may not be protected in the long-term.”
Councillor, Andrew Struthers, reminded McMurray that decisions aren’t being made at this time, “only looking at data to review.”
Director of Finance, Paul Judson, advised that the $250,000 budgeted for land acquisition for a new station is “just a placeholder fund…versus linked to construction estimates.”