TO THE RESIDENTS OF THE SANDY HILL/AUGUSTON AREAS:

We believe you deserve the same coverage (response times) that the rest of the city’s urban areas get.  Right now our average response time to the Sandy Hill area is almost 9 minutes.  The rest of the city’s urban areas get an average response time of just over 4 minutes. The Fire Chief made these quoted comments to the Abbotsford News and the Abbotsford Times back in 2012 when the hiring of the first 5 firefighters towards staffing Hall 7 with a career engine was postponed a year by the sitting city council.

“We’re going to be an additional year away in order to provide the citizens who live on the eastern portion of the urban area the response time standards we believe they should have.” - Fire Chief Don Beer, 2012

“At the end of the day, businesses and residents in the area are getting a different service that other folks in the city.” - Fire Chief Don Beer, 2012

”A room and contents fire can easily become a fully involved structure fire based on the five-minute delay.” - Fire Chief Don Beer, 2012

”We have an excellent auxiliary force that works out of that hall.” “Keep in mind, they respond from home or a place of business so they are at least four to six minutes further out than what career staff would be.” - Fire Chief Don Beer, 2012

The gap in service, resulting in these longer response times was identified back in 2006 according to the quote from the Chief.  He also was quoted saying, “A room and contents fire can easily become a fully involved structure fire based on the five-minute delay.”  At the time he was directed to bring it back to council in 2013 to revisit it.  We are now in 2019 and the process still hasn’t begun.

The Fire Chief and elected officials claim the staffing issue has been addressed in the latest master plan where it calls for staffing Hall 7 in, “...2023, or later.”  As evidenced by the quotes, master plans are routinely not adhered to.  The 2011 master plan had the hall staffed with a full time engine by 2015.  That didn’t happen.

An identified gap in service resulting in an average response time of almost 9 minutes for the first arriving apparatus as opposed to 4-5 minutes in the rest of the city’s urban core.  A gap that was identified in 2006, was supposed to be filled in 2015, and now won’t be filled until 2023 or later.  The people in charge of spending your tax dollars thinks this is good enough, do you?  

This is not about [population] growth, it’s about simple geography and response times. And the fact is, right now, there are certain ares of our community that are under served.” - Councillor Patricia Ross, 2012

The City claims that staffing the hall would increase your property taxes yet according to a story in the Abbotsford News they just put $29 million into general reserves from budget surpluses this year bringing that reserve up to almost $90 million.  They also added $3.8 million to the “rainy day operating reserve” bringing that total up to $51.3 million.  The money is there to staff the hall, with no impact on property tax rates.  They just don’t think they have to.  They are gambling with your family’s safety.  We think it’s unacceptable.

CALL TO ACTION

If you think you deserve equal service to the rest of the urban areas with a full time engine out of the Sandy Hill area (Hall 7), contact your city councillors and tell them so! Ask them how they can justify waiting 17 years after identifying the gap in the Sandy Hill area to fill that gap? You pay the same taxes, don’t you deserve the same coverage? 

For more information, see our full Public Safety page here.