Local fire department rental fee waiver request sparks council discussion

MAPLETON – Discussion over waiving the fees to rent out the PMD arena for fire events caused confusion in council on Oct. 22.

Fire chief Rick Richardson presented a resolution to council asking to waive the $1,000 rental fee for an upcoming fire information night to be held in December and the reintroduction of the Fire Safety Day previously held annually in May.

“Last year through some communication oversights [Fire Safety Day] didn’t happen, we would like to resurrect that through Safe Communities and through the fire department and invite all the grades 1s and 4s back there again but of course the cost of the arena is about $1,000 for the day those three items are ones we would like to see if we can get the fees waived,” said Richardson.

“Because they are community events that we are doing for the community,” he added.

His request caused confusion as many of the councillors were under the assumption that the council had already discussed the issue ahead of the budget and it was no longer a policy.

“I am just surprised that we still charge the fire department for these functions so I would be in support of waiving those fees year on year so that we don’t have to keep coming back to this issue to discuss it,” said councillor Paul Douglas.

“The report actually brings up a point of clarity. I actually thought we had discussed this through the last year budgeting process and I thought we had decided we were not going to continue the process of robbing Peter to pay Paul type practice,” said councillor Michael Martin.

“That is absolutely true we did have that discussion earlier that we wouldn’t have reports like this come forward to council, we had clarity that we are not going to have one department in the township charge another department in the township for the use of a facility,” Mayor Gregg Davidson confirmed.

While Finance director John Morrison agreed that it seemed ineffective to move money between township departments, he argued that there needed to be a record of cost and who pays them is important.

“I don’t believe that we should be getting money back and forth but a journal entry in to attribute the cost is appropriate. To say that the fire department doesn’t receive a charge means that recreation department does so who is going to get the charge?” said Morrison.

However, Davidson disagreed.

“I don’t personally think we need to have this resolution, I believe the resolution that we need to have a resolution, it would be that the old policy of one department charging another department for the use of facilities be abolished,” said Davidson.

“Obviously the fire chief thought that he still needed to come forward and if that is the case then we need to make sure that all departments realize that they don’t need to,” said Davidson.

Councillor Denis Craven, seconded by Douglas moved to defer the resolution so that staff could present a motion to change the policy around sharing resources.