MORRISBURG – A radio and paging system that would cover all of SD&G fire services is officially “dead in the water,” according to Mayor Steven Byvelds.

At the beginning of 2019, the fire chiefs proposed that SD&G work with BearCom LTD to come up with a joint solution for a new communication system for all municipal fire services and the county roads department, who was discontinuing cell phone use and planned to rebuild their own radio infrastructure.

It would mirror the new system put in place by the United Counties of Prescott-Russell for their fire service.

In September, KELCOM Radio Solutions provided a report to County Council and ranked each municipality’s radio and paging system.

The report for South Dundas showed that much of it needed to be upgraded. The radio infrastructure and paging systems were no longer being manufactured and migration options to an updated version were very limited although parts were still available. The radios themselves were in a better state with hardware support and better migration options to a newer system. The pagers were a mix of old and new with some upgrade options.

The North Stormont radio system was also in a very poor state and they planned to spend $150,000 this fall to start remedying their situation. North Glengarry was in also in desperate need of a solution and has gone ahead and built a new radio system mirroring the Prescott-Russell system.

It was hoped that a joint county driven seven tower fire radio system would save each municipality in SD&G thousands of dollars while increasing the health and safety of firefighters.

A disappointed Byvelds informed South Dundas council that the dream for cooperation across county lines was crushed earlier that day, Mon., Nov. 18, at SD&G council.

“In the end council decided not to go ahead on a county-wide system. To say the least, I was not happy about it and county council knew about it. Some said we basically didn’t need it.

As much as I wanted to question them, it is what it is,” he said. “My recommendation to the fire chief now is to come to council at budget to fix up the gaps we have in our system. I would suggest to him that he go ahead and start that project and get it going.”

Councillor Lloyd Wells questioned why the tide had turned on something that seemed to have significant support.

“I was under the impression that everyone was on board pretty much except for North Dundas,” he said.

“They made a strong case that we didn’t need to spend a million dollars on equipment and we had a lot of other asks,” explained Byvelds. “It was an endless parade of people wanting money at county council. I still think it would have been a good investment on top of all the other asks.”

Asked whether there was any chance to revive the plan, Byvelds was clear in his response.

“It’s time for us to move on,” he said. “The vision wasn’t there this morning.”