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Feds face renewed pressure to keep RCMP emergency communications centre in Truro

The RCMP operational communications centre on Prince Street in Truro.
FILE PHOTO.

Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann tables petition in Ottawa signed by her constituents

Local MP Lenore Zann renewed the fight to keep the RCMP’s Operational Communication Centre in Truro Friday.

The member for Cumberland-Colchester tabled a petition signed by her constituents in Parliament on Dec. 13. It called on Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair to honour the commitment for an independent study on the risks of moving the OCC from Truro to Dartmouth.

“We also call upon the minister to immediately halt the move of the Truro OCC to Dartmouth and immediately halt all work related to the move, pending the outcome of a thorough independent review and risk assessment,” said Zann in parliament.

Zann said guidelines from all the leading crisis management authorities indicate geographic separation is a key requirement for emergency communications services. These experts include the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Emergency Number Association, the National Fire Protection Association and the RCMP themselves.

The required geographic separation now exists with one OCC in Truro and another in Dartmouth. The proposal to consolidate both emergency communications centers in one cocation goes against expert guidelines, says Zann.

It was a point echoed by Kathleen Hippern, president of CUPE Local 104 in Truro.

“We looked into this and are satisfied that our current location in Truro, NS meets occupational health and safety guidelines,” said Hippern in a Facebook message to the Truro News. “We do have OHS concerns about the new location in Dartmouth and have raised these concerns directly with the RCMP.”

Hippern said many OCC staff, herself included, chose to settle in or near Truro to be close to work. If the centre moves to Dartmouth, Truro-area staff would face long commutes.

“Many are now looking for other work or will take early retirements.” said Hippern. “This loss of job expertise in a job that is essential to public safety is a concern.”

Hippern said both the employees she represents and the public believed Ottawa ordered an independent study, in response to public safety concerns raised by then-MP Bill Casey. This would be in relation to locating the two largest emergency communications centers for Nova Scotia so close to each other.

“We understood that this study would be a proper risk analysis to look at the move itself and would be done a neutral independent third party,” said Hippern.

However, she said CUPE received a letter from the RCMP this summer, saying the study was only intended to result in a better OCC in Dartmouth.

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