Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield just can't wrap his head around it. No matter how much documentation was put before him, Kenora's mayor simply couldn't agree a $1.1 million fire truck was necessary.
"You weigh all the odds. What's the cost of a life? The fact is, there's never been a life saved by an aerial truck. The fact is, we should have an aerial truck. Spending $1.137 million dollars...No," he said, after the meeting.
The mayor went so far as to point to a vehicle, which he suggested might be available at a lower price, but it was too little too late.
However, the mayor was outvoted 4-1, during yesterday's special council meeting. After the recorded vote, fire chief Todd Skene offered his point of view.
"We've done our research looking at everything used -- that has a warranty on it -- through to brand new. In this case, we're looking at the truck we've selected. I think it's a good choice. They're all expensive, no matter which way we go," he said.
The current truck has been used about 50 times since buying it five years ago, and that the ladder came in handy, when they fought fires at Kenora Forest Products and the Weyerhaeuser mill. The truck has been used three times so far in 2017. Skene noted that the truck has been in the shop for over 200 hours for repairs so far, and that a replacement truck may be coming.
While the financing for the purchase will allow the city to avoid a tax increase, Skene allows it could come back to haunt them, if they need to buy another new truck within seven years, because there will be no money left in the piggy bank to buy one.
The fire chief noted the existing aerial truck wasn't working properly. He added there were 19 buildings in the city four storeys or higher, including some mill buildings in the community.
Councillors noted they wanted to see the city to grow, with new condos being built, and fire protection was an important service for future investors. Councillors Sharon Smith, Mort Goss, Rory McMillan and Louis Roussin voted in favour of the purchase. Councillors Dan Reynard and Colin Wasacase were absent.
While the fire service had been looking at replacing a new tanker truck this year, as well as a new pumper truck in two years. However, those plans have now been shelved. The reserve fund of abot $500,000 has also been emptied.
At their September meeting, Skene said aerial fire trucks can run anywhere from $800,000 to $1.5-million. The current truck is a 1995 Nova Quintech model, that can produce 6,000 litres of water per minute. The 1995 model was bought by Kenora in 2012, but the city's already spent $80,000 on a vehicle that still isn't working. The typical lifespan for a fire truck in Ontario is roughly 25 years.
The new purchase is a refurbished 2017 Sutphen. While some models under consideration were from the U.S., and they would need customization, this model was meant for Canadian winters, and it wouldn't need any further modifications, the fire chief said.
Council also added another $500,000 to the day's bill, so they could buy a new transit bus, making the total for the meeting more than $1.6 million.
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