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Let the fire union have its say

Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board.

Back in 2013, the council of the day gave its approval to a Fire Master Plan, a document intended to map out the city’s fire services over the next decade.

As we all know, there has been a lot of change in Oshawa since then.

Growth in the city, especially in the north end, has exploded and is set to continue on that course.

Over the past year, it has become apparent that the Fire Master Plan developed less than six years ago, while a good, well-thought-out plan, needed some tweaking.

That is exactly what is on the docket for 2019, to develop a new, updated plan.

It is easy to scrutinize past staff and councillors for not having enough foresight to predict that growth would outpace what was anticipated in the plan.

But the reality is, things change. For example, a year ago, who would have thought that General Motors could be months away from closing its iconic Oshawa assembly plant.

This new revamped Fire Master Plan, along with a community risk assessment, is a chance for the city to regroup and, for a lack of a better term, go back to the drawing board.

An aside to this issue is the voice missing from the conversation, at least, publicly.

That voice is of the Oshawa Professional Firefighters Association.

Since last summer, president Peter Dyson has been unable to address council and committees as a delegate, and while this decision may fit within the rules of Oshawa’s procedural bylaw, things change.

At a recent meeting, seven of Oshawa’s 11 councillors voted in favour of an effort to let Dyson speak.

However, a two-thirds majority, which on council, is represented by eight votes, is needed to achieve this.

This led other councillors and Dyson himself to ask what exactly the councillors are afraid of hearing.

It is unlikely they are afraid, but as former mayor and Ward 5 councillor John Gray pointed out, the union used to speak freely to council all the time in the past, and up until last year, had continued the practice.

As Dyson himself said, councillors don’t necessarily have to even listen to what he has to say, but he should be given the opportunity to share it if it is the majority of council’s will.