SAINT-LAMBERT – Local politicians in the south shore city of Saint-Lambert are in mourning over the loss of their local fire station.
The historic building on Aberdeen Street is set to close down next year and move to the neighbouring town of LeMoyne.
It’s a cost-saving measure recently adopted by the agglomeration of Longueuil, but many argue it will put the safety of elderly residents on the line.
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“I feel pretty bad because it was not a decision of the citizens of Saint-Lambert, it was a decision of the agglomeration of Longueuil,” said Saint-Lambert mayor Alain Dépatie.
Despite fierce opposition, many fear it’s a done deal since land has already been purchased two kilometres away, and the bidding process has kicked off for construction of a new fire station.
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Saint-Lambert’s mayor is only one out of five in the agglomeration of Longueuil who voted against the move.
“The political will is not there, they don’t treat us with respect,” said city councillor for district two, Martin Smith.
Saint-Lambert is home to one of the oldest populations in Canada, with 26 per cent of residents over 65 years of age.
Keeping the fire station within the city limits is a question of respect and safety for the elderly, according to many.
“You really need a fire department that can be on the spot really quickly,” insisted Smith.
It’s a concern shared by many in the community.
“I’m disappointed really that it is going to move, for sure,” said long-time resident Linda Bourne.
John Bourne feels they’re paying more and more taxes for less services.
“Everything’s being cut, garbage days in the winter now it’s the fire station, at what point will they stop?” he told Global News.
The city has already lost its police station, and losing another local emergency service is the last straw for many.
“Every year, Saint-Lambert taxpayers send $20 million to this agglomeration – $8.5 million of this goes for police and fire department and we have no police office, no fire department here,” deplored Smith.
“It’s very symbolic and really bad.”
The agglomeration of Longueuil will hold public consultations on May 11, but many believe it’s just a formality since plans are already underway to build a new fire station.
When the station on Aberdeen Street closes next year, it will be the end of an era.
Saint-Lambert will become the only city in the agglomeration that doesn’t have a fire station within its borders.
“I’m pretty disappointed that it’s going to be gone” said Dépatie.
“I think it’s a shame to lose all of this.”