Sudbury·City Council

Review underway of Sudbury ambulance, fire services

Fire and ambulance service in Greater Sudbury could look very different by the end of the year.
About 10 per cent of fire fighters are already trained paramedics, the Ontario Professional Firefighters Association says. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)
Ambulance and fire services could be changing in greater Sudbury. The city is taking a hard look at the services. City council heard from Greater Sudbury's chief of emergency services at its last meeting. We have some of that presentation. 5:42

Fire and ambulance service in Greater Sudbury could look very different by the end of the year.

Greater Sudbury Emergency Services Chief Tim Beadman. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)
Chief of Emergency Services Tim Beadman told city council during his budget presentation Tuesday night that a major review of fire and ambulance is underway.

He said that will include looking at who responds to what calls—and whether Greater Sudbury needs 24 fire stations.

"Fire services has really been operating as seven different fire departments, and now we're saying we don't need to be everything at every station," Beadman said.

As for ambulances, the number of calls keeps going up and Beadman said that trend is expected to continue as the population ages in the years to come.

"We're doing some work this year to see where our trouble areas are, so we are at our max, there are challenges," he said.

Beadman also told council that keeping paramedics off of sick leave and on the job is another focus for him this year.

Ward 6 councillor Rene Lapierre, who used to work as a paramedic for the city, said that will be hard to do if the number of ambulance calls keeps rising.
Sudbury city councillors Rene Lapierre and Robert Kirwan. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

"Between burning out our staff and being at our max, probably have to do something quicker or sooner than later," he said.

The question of area rating also came up last night.

That's the system that sees outlying areas of Greater Sudbury such as Lively, Val Caron, Chelmsford and Coniston that are served by volunteer fire brigades pay a lower tax rate than those in Sudbury proper that are served by full-time firefighters.

However, for years, full-time firefighters have been responding to calls in the outlying areas, even though those citizens technically don't pay for the service.

But Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh asked if this could mean fire trucks aren't available to respond to the fires they are supposed to and asked for a full report on area rating.

Beadman said he wasn't a tax expert, but said he didn't see the fire service as being split between professional and volunteer or between the urban core and the rest of the Greater Sudbury.

"We are one fire department," he said. "The trucks belong to the taxpayers,"

Funding for art gallery, Bell Park expansion

Sudbury city councillors also voted on which budget options it should consider when finally deciding what gets money in this year's budget. That vote is scheduled for next week.

Ward 10 city councillor Fern Cormier convinced his colleagues to reconsider dropping $350,000 from the budget for the re-greening of the old General Hospital parking lot, something councillors had favoured the last time they discussed it.

He and others warned it could quickly become an eyesore.

"The line item is there for a project that will, in relatively short order, in our term of council, because an issue if we ignore it. And it's going to become a negative issue."

Options to give regular funding of $50,000 to Sudbury Crime Stoppers, $200,000 to the Art Gallery of Sudbury, $800,000 for cycling infrastructure and $250,000 for watershed studies was also kept alive Tuesday night.

Ward 12 councillor Joscelyne Landry-Altmann argued that regular funding for the art gallery matches some of the other places the city spends taxdollars.

"The art gallery is someone's arena. As this city, we support arenas, we support community halls, all at a loss. But we support that because we believe in a quality of life, so the same can be true of the art gallery itself."

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