Four new fire vehicles boost costs to Enniskillen township

159

Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

Enniskillen Township passed its 2024 budget with no changes on March 18 leaving a 5.2 per cent increases to municipal taxes.

One of the main reasons for the tax increase is the increase the township made to its fire levy, upping it by $100,000 to $650,000. That money will be used to fund both the Petrolia and North Enniskillen Fire Department and Oil Springs and South Enniskillen Fire Department.

Last year, Enniskillen Township rejected the purchase of a combined pumper and tanker for the department at a cost of $1.4 million. Enniskillen Administrator-Clerk Duncan McTavish said the fire committee met March 12 and Fire Chief Rick Cousins is recommending ordering two vehicles.

The capital budget that was circulated at the Petrolia fire committee meeting called for a new pickup to be delivered in 2026, with a new tanker truck in 2027 and a new pumper in 2029. Estimates for the tanker truck range from $525,000 to $750,000 while the estimated cost for a pumper truck is $1.2 million. McTavish also said the Oil Springs and South Enniskillen Fire Department is planning to replace its tanker truck in 2028.

Statistics show the tanker truck left the Petrolia hall just eight times on fire calls in 2023. Councillor Wally Van Dun, who represents Enniskillen on the fire committee, asked why and was told in the previous three years, the tanker went out 16 to 20 times during the year. “I don’t think a lot of guys know how to drive that truck,” said Van Dun. He was told the tanker is often used as a blocker vehicle at the scene when there is an incident on a highway.

The Petrolia and North Enniskillen fire committee will continue discussions about a new tanker truck at its next meeting April 3.

It will take between 18 months and two years from when an order is placed to when the truck will be delivered.

Enniskillen will spend $4.9 million to run the township in 2024. That’s been offset by a surplus of $750,000 in 2023. This amount has been moved into the operating budget for 2024.

Included in the capital work for 2024 will be $1,050,000 for asphalt work on Rokeby Line and Shiloh Line, with $330,000 for improvements at Krall Park, $330,000 for drainage assessments and $270,000 for bridge repairs.

The road superintendent’s pickup is also being replaced.

One of the things the council will need to review in the coming year is water rates, said McTavish.
He said simply adding the increase the Town of Petrolia passes along for bulk water to the township is not keeping pace with the expenses. In the fall of 2023, the flat rate of $45.50 was increased to $55.50.

“It is clear as the cost of water increases, the unfunded cost for water loss continues to increase,” said McTavish.

Enniskillen Township purchased 632,833 cubic metres of water in 2023, yet the amount of water billed was only 532,982 cubic metres. The remainder is water loss, which can be contributed to flushing and construction.

This cost Enniskillen $16,940 in 2023. The township increased its administration fee, which is added to each water bill by $10 from $45.50 to $55.50, and it went into affect on Jan. 1. This was the first time this fee has been increased since 2017.

The Local Journalism Initiative supports the creation of original civic journalism that covers the diverse needs of underserved communities across Canada.