City to use new provincial money for review of fire service budgets

By Lindsay Advocate

Kawartha Lakes has 20 different fire stations. Photo: Roderick Benns.

The Ontario government is providing up to $458,750 to help improve the delivery of critical programs and services in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock — money that Kawartha Lakes will be using to fund a third-party review of the fire service budgets, according to a media release.

The funding is being delivered through the Municipal Modernization Program.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the need to modernize the important programs and services municipalities provide,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. “Not only will these projects help ensure community members will benefit from innovative and streamlined solutions, they will also save taxpayers’ dollars.”

Ontario is providing up to $24 million to support the modernization of 224 small and rural municipalities across the province. A total of 254 projects will receive funding.

Mayor Andy Letham says Kawartha Lakes Fire Service operates over an extensive geographic area with 20 stations, employing about 350 staff — most of them volunteers.

“Given the significant size of the service, and ongoing budgetary pressures associated with maintaining equipment and facilities, we will use the funding for a third-party review of the fire service budgets. We thank the Province, and our local MPP Laurie Scott, for their commitment to assist municipalities to modernize services to continue meeting the needs of our communities.”

Municipalities will use the funding to find efficiencies and implement a wide range of initiatives to digitize, streamline and/or integrate programs and services with neighbouring communities. The funding will also help municipalities administer the cost saving measures in time for the 2022 municipal budget cycle.

Ontario has committed up to $125 million over four years through the Municipal Modernization Program to help small and rural municipalities modernize services. Under Intake 1, the Province invested $11.8 million in 180 modernization projects and identified over $100 million in savings and efficiencies.

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