Vernon’s version of the cold war shows no signs of thawing.
It was back in July that the City of Vernon announced it would not renew a contract with the Okanagan Landing Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection services. Since then, verbal volleys have been tossed between the city and the association.
Just in the last few days alone, the association hosted an open house and began circulating a petition demanding the contract be renewed. Not to be outdone, the city issued a lengthy press release Thursday, once again outlining its argument for an integrated fire service.
Obviously, the goal of both parties is to win the public relations battle. They are appealing to residents to bestow support on their particular stance and abandon the other.
But the challenge, quite frankly, is the residents of Vernon don’t know which way to turn.
Yes reports have been released and statements have been made. Both sides toss around figures quite liberally. But details have sometimes been conflicting and further confuse the issue for residents.
City council, and specifically the politicians because they are the ones responsible for the city, needs to sit down with the Landing association’s executive.
Ultimately, the city may not back off its new model, but a frank discussion may lead to firefighters’ concerns being addressed. The volunteers may also provide council with ways of enhancing the service city staff hasn’t considered.
Both the city and the Landing association insist they have the community’s best interests at heart.
And while that can’t be questioned, they are going about it the wrong way and risking pubic confidence in emergency services in the process.
THE MORNING STAR