Fire service petition off to a strong start

Movement to hopefully turn town council around on the idea of a regional fire service is off to a great start

Ponoka residents taking turns in signing the petition aimed at making the town council step back from its decision to create a new fire service exclusively for the town on Thursday

Ponoka residents taking turns in signing the petition aimed at making the town council step back from its decision to create a new fire service exclusively for the town on Thursday

The movement to have the Ponoka Town Council step back from its decision to separate fire services from the county-led regional setup got off to a strong start last week with half of the legally required number of signatures already collected within the first three days.

Jim Hamilton, who is spearheading a petition for the town to either roll back its decision to separate and join the county in a regional fire service or to conduct a plebiscite on the matter, said some 350 signatures had been collected by Monday morning, Feb. 1, in only three days after the campaign was launched on Thursday, Jan. 28.

He said their goal was to reach up to one thousand signatures even though the legal requirement is a bit fewer than 700, 10 per cent of the town population.

“Some of them (signatures) may be thrown out, so we just want to make sure,” Hamilton added.

The petition is a single sentence document reading ‘We, the undersigned, petition that the Town of Ponoka either join the County of Ponoka Regional Fire Department or hold a formal plebiscite on the issue”.

The start of the campaign at the Hudson Green Nature and Activity Centre on Thursday night saw a busy flow of residents coming in, signing the petition and leaving in the course of the two hours reserved for the event.

“Residents are overwhelmingly supporting the two councils working together,” said Hamilton in reference to his impressions from Thursday night. “They don’t want a divided community.”

Hamilton and Deb Nicol, the other organizer of the campaign, in their sheets of guidance on how the signatures should be collected, make a clear distinction between their goal of having the fire services agreement revisited and the other contentious issue of conflict of interests stemming from the separation decision.

“We make no claim or comment on the personnel of either the Town Department or County Regional Fire Department. Paid staff and volunteers come and go and we do not believe this decision should be based on personnel. This petition is based only on the financial ramifications that we, the organizers, believe to be the case,” they said.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said it was the right of the citizens to question and criticize the council’s decisions. “As long as it is properly drafted and has enough support, we have to consider the petition,” he explained. “We are working for the citizens, if they don’t like what we do, we have to change what we do.”

Those who wish to sign the petition can reach the organizers by e-mailing imfrazzed@hotmail.com.

 

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