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Richmond Hill explores fire merger feasibility with Central York
June 22, 2015
By Chris Simon

Where there’s amalgamation smoke, there could be fire.

Richmond Hill Mayor Dave Barrow will form a team tasked with looking into a potential merger of the town’s fire department with Central York Fire Services. The team - which will consist of staff, regional and local Councillors Vito Spatafora and Brenda Hogg and Councillor Godwin Chan, will present a report on the matter to council in the fall.

The move comes after Aurora and Newmarket, the municipalities that oversee the operation of CYFS, presented Richmond Hill with a letter of interest regarding a possible amalgamation.

“Richmond Hill was part of the original discussions when Aurora and Newmarket consolidated their fire departments in 2002,” Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen and Aurora Mayor Geoff Dawe wrote jointly in the letter.

“Looking back at the success of the consolidation agreement for Central York and the rising cost of providing fire services, it might be an excellent opportunity to re-examine the benefits.”

CYFS Chief Ian Laing has pushed Newmarket and Aurora councils for improvements to his department for years.

Inadequate funding

In February, he told representatives from both municipalities that population growth and inadequate funding has made meeting service level requirements increasingly difficult.

So, an amalgamated service could improve service and help address pockets along municipal borders where timely emergency response can be difficult, he said in April.

Richmond Hill will spend about $19.8 million on fire and emergency services this year, according to the municipality’s recently approved operating budget - the CYFS’s draft 2015 operating budget is more than $23 million.