Four communities on the North Shore will have their ambulance bases staffed full-time after city councillors in Thunder Bay voted to fund the Emergency Medical Service at a Monday night meeting.

It took a few hours, but city councillors decided that spending more than $40,000 a year on ambulance services in Nipigon, Red Rock, Terrace Bay and Schreiber would be worthwhile.

That figure could drop in half if the province kicks in funding for enhancing EMS service along the North Shore.

Coun. Andrew Foulds said the investment should strengthen ties between communities.

"It could, in the end, cost us $22,000," he said. "I think this builds up some goodwill between the City of Thunder Bay and the region."

Matter 'put to rest'

Not all councillors agreed with Foulds.

Some argued the city shouldn't pay for paramedics in outlying communities.

Terrace Bay Mayor Mike King said he thought some councillors would have a difficult time spending money that doesn't directly affect city taxpayers.

"We knew it was a really complicated item and of course there was a cost involved," he said.

"We're very pleased with tonight's decision. It seems like the matter is now going to be put to rest."

King said he's willing to accept long wait times for 9-1-1 service because of geography, adding it's unfair to make people wait so the city can save a few dollars.

"Certainly there is nothing fair about funding what are essentially income redistribution programs, like EMS, through property taxes," he said.

Staffing all four EMS bases will cost about $55,000 per year, with Thunder Bay kicking in about $44,000 of that cost.

The rest will come from other municipalities across the district.