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A letter claiming a rift exists between the volunteer fire department and town council has been circulating in the Town of Northern Arm over the past couple weeks.
Dated Oct. 22, and attributed to the Northern Arm Fire Department, the letter suggests the department is in a “crisis situation” with Northern Arm’s town council. It attributes the current circumstance to statements by Mayor Michael Tremblett.
The letter stated, “During a meeting of council Mayor Tremblett challenged the integrity of … the entire Northern Arm Fire Department” by suggesting a $1,500 cheque to the fire department was being used for the limited use of the fire department members and not for the general community.
The fire department letter to residents does not specify the date of the council meeting.
According to the letter, at the council meeting in question, the mayor was the only person to vote against a motion brought forward by councillors Fred Butler and Boyd Samson — also members of the fire department — to funnel money earmarked for the town to the fire department.
“The Northern Arm Volunteer Fire Department will not tolerate having our reputation tarnished by the mayor,” the letter stated.
The deputy fire chief declined comment when contacted by The Central Voice and the fire chief could not be reached for comment.
Mayor Tremblett did offer comment, however.
He told The Central Voice he was caught off guard by the letter as he believed a meeting with the department’s deputy fire chief in early October had put any disputes to rest between the parties.
“I don’t know what the crisis is. It is a manufactured thing by a couple of members of the department,” said Tremblett. “We have no problems with the fire department and the department has no problem with (the town council).”
He also said what was printed in the letter isn’t what he said at the time of the meeting.
“I was not saying they would, but they could (use the money for personal reasons),” said Tremblett. “I didn’t challenge the integrity of the fire department.”
Tremblett, who was the deputy mayor at the time of that meeting, said the money was paid by an insurance company because the town supplied water to help fight a fire at the mink farm on the road to Point Leamington.
Tremblett did file a conflict of interest complaint against councilors Butler and Samson after the motion had passed.
Controversy has become synonymous with Northern Arm in the last year. In September 2018, after then mayor Lloyd Hunter quit his position, there was a mass resignation of councillors citing they couldn’t work with Tremblett, who was then the town’s deputy mayor.
A couple of months later the town held a byelection and managed to fill four of its six empty seats to get up and running.
In April of this year a petition was circulated by former councillors Fred Butler and Gerald Sceviour that obtained close to 200 signatures supporting the dissolution of the Northern Arm council.
The Department of Municipal Affairs commissioned a report on the affairs of Northern Arm.
A spokesperson for the department told The Central Voice in a recent email the report is not yet completed.
“The inspection into the operations of the Town of Northern Arm continues. Following the completion of the investigation, the results will be shared with the Town council.”