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Letter: Skead residents make the case for keeping fire hall

‘We feel that we’re being abandoned by the City of Greater Sudbury’

This is an open letter to Mayor Paul Lefebvre, city council and the citizens of Greater Sudbury.

I am writing this letter to express our very serious concerns about the potential closing of the fire hall in Skead and the removal of the rescue boat from Wahnapitae Lake.

A few years ago my husband and I decided to move to a home on Wahnapitae Lake in Skead. We knew that moving to this rural area would come with some sacrifices – a longer drive to shopping and work, the possibility of more frequent power outages, wear and tear on vehicles because of daily driving on an unpaved road, no access to city water, to name a few. 

We were confident however that the extra taxes we would have to pay, even with fewer services, would be worth it. Certainly, with a fire hall within 10 minutes of our new home, we felt secure.

However, the recent threat of permanently closing the fire hall in Skead is more than worrisome. We feel that we’re being abandoned by the City of Greater Sudbury. 

Some of the other fire halls also slated to close are only a few minutes away from fire protection. Many of them are small communities that have paved roads, easily accessed by a firetruck. In Skead this is not the case! 

Some of us will be 40 minutes or more from a firehall if this decision is made. Our roads are narrow and winding, adding to the time it would take a truck to get to a property on fire.

In this area, since Natural Gas is not an option for home heating, many people use wood burning stoves as a heat source in their houses and garages. As well, many residents on Wahnapitae Lake enjoy saunas, a common practice for those who reside near a lake in Northern Ontario. 

In these living conditions, the thought that a fire station is at least 40 minutes away is terrifying.

We have been informed that one step in keeping the fire hall open would be to recruit more volunteer firefighters. Steps were taken to do so and those interested came out to show their interest and willingness to be trained. 

This was met with more obstacles as an unreasonably short and inflexible timeline for training was presented. Several of those interested would not be able to take the time away from their permanent jobs in time to meet the deadlines that were set. 

I am asking each of you on city council to look into this as well. If volunteer firefighters are truly needed and valued, why are the timelines so rigid? Why is training only offered on weekdays?

It is unfair to close this hall – the implications for safety aside, there will be significant costs to the residents if the hall is closed. 

Anyone who has owned a home knows that there are two important questions insurance companies ALWAYS ask: How far is this home from a firehall/fire hydrant? AND do you use a wood-burning heat source? The answers to these questions determine the cost. 

Should the hall be closed the residents here will be see significant insurance rate increases and possibly more cost should they have to change their source of heating in order to even get home insurance.

Finally, in making this decision, city council will have to consider the fact that in the summer months our population grows significantly. Seasonal homes fill up and weekend campers, boaters and visitors join us to enjoy the outdoors and our beautiful lake. This increases the number of recreational campfires as well as the use of fireplaces, wood stoves and barbeques, and with them the risk to all of our properties.

I encourage all residents who do not live in Skead but do enjoy this area to come forward and join us in encouraging city council to consider your safety as well as ours!

Wahnapitae Lake is, as many Greater Sudbury residents know, very popular with boaters! Motorized boats, canoes, kayaks and personal watercraft are ubiquitous sights from May to October. Our marinas and all access points on the lake are always busy. 

Most of us know of the accidents that have taken lives on Lake Wahnapitae. Just recently a very public conflict over an access point to the lake for non residents was debated and decided by the members of city council. 

We are asking the same council, who decided that non residents should have access to the lake, to do the right thing and return the Rescue Boat and the firehall to this area. We urge you to reconsider, in light of these facts. 

This is a very busy recreational area used by so many of our city’s residents. The safety and well being of the citizens of Skead, our visiting friends and relatives, and vacationing tourists must be considered in these decisions.

Laurie and Marc Lamothe