Sudbury

Beaver Lake residents threaten legal action over Sudbury fire plan

Residents in the community of Beaver Lake are planning to fight back and are considering legal action if the City of Greater Sudbury closes their small fire station.

Fire hall in Beaver Lake one of nine in city that could close if proposed plan proceeds

Jules Lalonde and Dino Titon both live in the Beaver Lake community in Greater Sudbury. Titon says residents are concerned emergency response times could increase if the city closes the community fire hall. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

Residents in the community of Beaver Lake say they're considering legal action if the City of Greater Sudbury closes their local fire station.

It's one of nine fire halls that would close under the proposed Fire Services Optimization plan. If the station is shuttered, the community would be served by the next closest hall, located about 20 kilometres away, in Whitefish.

"By the time the volunteer service is dispatched from Whitefish or the proposed composite service is dispatched from Lively, we're looking at waits of 20 to 25 minutes," said Dino Titon, who has lived in Beaver Lake for five years.

"You know yourself if you're in an accident on the highway and you're injured 20 to 25 minutes could be a lifetime and it's the same thing if there's a fire in the area."

The station is important to firefighting efforts in the Beaver Lake area, Titon continued, as the rural community doesn't have infrastructure like hydrants. He added that volunteer firefighters are commonly called to collisions along Highway 17.

'Last recourse'

The community has prepared a contingency plan to make sure residents have fire service, even if it means seeking it from nearby Nairn Centre, which is not part of the City of Greater Sudbury. The two communities would have to discuss how such an arrangement would work.

Titon said some Beaver Lake residents are also planning legal action by launching a class action lawsuit if Sudbury's optimization plan goes ahead with the closure of the local fire station, adding that they've had preliminary talks with a legal firm.

We don't feel that we're being treated fairly- Beaver Lake resident Dino Titon

"We feel that this is the last recourse that we have as a community, so we've banded together and we're exploring that as the last option," he said, adding that he hopes Sudbury councillors vote against the plan "based on common sense and reasoning."

"It's not something that we want to do, but it's something that we feel we have to do because we've been painted into the corner," he said.

Titon said residents are also concerned about home insurance costs rising if the Beaver Lake hall closes, as many homeowners would be beyond a 13 kilometre radius of the closest fire station.

"We don't feel that we're being treated fairly," he said. "We don't feel that the plan has taken all the data into account."

Sudbury city council is expected to vote on the proposed plan April 26.

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