/AH council discusses firefighter pay

AH council discusses firefighter pay

The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Feb. 3 meeting of Algonquin Highlands Council, held virtually.

By Nick Bernard

Fire Chief Mike French presented a proposal outlining new hourly rates for firefighters within the Algonquin Highlands fire services. Currently, all members of the fire service make $20.51 per hour across the board, with the new proposed rates based on the performance and responsibility of each position. While council agreed with much of the proposal, the decision was made to defer further conversation on the proposal for another time.

Overall, the financial impact of the proposal would cost the township $9,294.50, which French reports is expected to be close to neutral on the township’s budget.

Under the new rates, recruits would earn $16 per hour, before moving on to $20.51 per hour upon completing the required National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certifications. On the top end, fire captains would earn $23.51 per hour, and the district fire chief would earn $25.01 per hour.

The decision to defer came from concern around the growing cost of living, with Deputy Mayor Liz Danielsen vocalizing support for keeping the recruit wage at $20.51, but said further increases would be needed once that recruit finishes their training.

“That’s something that might need a little further consideration,” she said. “While I don’t want to see us do any reductions, there really should be, you know, some reward or compensation for having gone through all that training … So I would think that needs to be built into these numbers as well.”

Danielsen concluded that council would defer the conversation until French had time to consider their comments and adjust the proposal accordingly.

Art requires liability insurance

The Arts Council – Haliburton Highlands has invited the Township of Algonquin Highlands to display a piece of local art inside municipal buildings. However, according to chief administrative officer Angie Bird, there is a concern around liability.

“The general rule is that you can’t insure something if you don’t own it, is how they phrased it,” she explained. A similar initiative was made in 2017, with the insurance company requesting that liability insurance be provided by the work’s owner, which proved to be a stumbling block at that time.

“I fully understand the concerns associated with if something did happen to a valuable piece of artwork,” remarked Danielsen. “But it does seem awfully unfortunate that so many of the decisions we’re faced with these days, we can’t do some of the small community things that we’d like to do, because we’re concerned about liability. It’s a shame, it’s changed the face of how we do business in small communities.”

The rest of council was supportive of Danielsen’s sentiment, but ultimately made the decision to consult further with the township’s insurance provider on how to best proceed.

Asset management plan sets out to improve local landing

Residents of Lower Fletcher Lake, locally known as Skin Lake, will be receiving a questionnaire about their use of the public boat launch on that lake.

According to a report from Parks, Recreation, and Trails manager Chris Card, the landing is the next identified project in the township’s Asset Management Plan, with its condition officially listed as poor. 

The landing that exists currently is made of gravel with a retaining wall and cantilevered dock feature. A number of solutions Card presented from other nearby lakes include variations of floating docks. 

Once the questionnaires are sent out and their responses gathered, a new design will be created and costed out, with the restoration project to begin pending council approval.

Card said he hoped to present a design for the landing to council, with the information gathering period for questionnaires taking place through February and March.