A mayor from Labrador West is criticizing plans to answer province-wide 911 calls in Corner Brook and not his area.

Wabush Mayor Colin Vardy said the new province-wide emergency system — which will funnel all calls from Newfoundland and Labrador to dispatch centres in either St. John's or Corner Brook — will put people in western Labrador in danger.

"What's in place works, and it would be nice to leave it there," Vardy said, adding that right now when someone in Labrador dials 911, an operator in Labrador will take the call.

RNC will no longer take Labrador calls

Right now calls from Labrador are answered at the RNC detachment in Labrador City, a service that will be lost.

Vardy said the local knowledge of the people answering the phones is crucial.

Vardy said western Labrador fought for years to bring 911 to the region, and that losing the service locally will be rough.

"This, this is a big blow to us."

Vardy said he made a strong push for the province to keep 911 calls local in western Labrador.

Dan Crummell, the minister responsible for Fire and Emergency Services, said Vardy's push to keep the service in the area was considered, but that it just did not make sense.

Low volume of Labrador calls

"Labrador right now gets like 200 calls a year," said Crummell.

"In order for us to be able to put in the infrastructure that's required in Labrador, there would be a significant capital cost involved," he said.

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The sign for the fire department in Wabush (CBC)

Vardy said he will keep advocating for the system to stay the same, although Crummell said the program is moving ahead and that he remains confident in the decision.

Crummell said the province-wide system will be in place by January.

Eight to 12 new jobs in Corner Brook will be created. Crummell said operators with the RNC and RCMP will likely move into other positions rather than lose their jobs.

Corrections

  • A prior version of this story incorrectly said there is a detachment in Wabush. It is actually in Labrador City.
    Sep 08, 2014 12:44 PM NT