Port Alberni city council is looking for efficiencies in its 2017–2021 financial plan, which will translate into cuts. We don’t think this should include cuts to emergency services such as the fire and police departments.
Port Alberni fire Chief Kelly Gilday said cuts to personnel—even by attrition—could mean the city’s fire department would have to respond to calls with fewer than four people and wait for others on call to join them before they could enter a burning building. He gave a concrete example of the consequences of waiting for extra personnel: the mini-mall fire that occurred next to the fire hall could have been much worse if they had to wait for a full crew.
Gilday has also joined the department from Langley, where he operated with a combined paid/ volunteer force. He says, with first-hand experience, the most efficient model is the one that Port Alberni is presently running.
City firefighters are also our first responders, meaning they get called out for everything that ambulances would respond to in addition to fires. We can’t afford to cut the department so deeply that it starts to affect people’s lives.
Our RCMP force is among the busiest in BC for calls for a city our size, and they also respond to outlying rural areas. They are also apparently three years behind on administrative duties—pretty good evidence that they need the manager the city is suggesting, and that they can’t afford many more cuts either.