Water RescuePhoto by sangbog choi / iStock via Getty Images Plus

Mayor of Saugeen Shores calling for more water rescue support

The mayor of Saugeen Shores is expressing his frustration with the length of time it takes for OPP and the Coast Guard to arrive for water rescues in the area.

Luke Charbonneau says, currently, volunteer firefighters are left to risk their lives on the water to ensure everyone is safe.

"Unfortunately the folks who are responsible for providing those services, the OPP and Coast Guard, are far enough away that they can be as much as two hours from being here," he said. "Two hours turns a potential rescue into a likely recovery. They're too far away."

Volunteer firefighters aren't paid for their roles and many do it out of a sense of community. But, Charbonneau said it's not fair to leave this up to them, especially outside of their service area.

"They're individuals in our community who are incredibly brave and they'll go to the ends of the earth to help someone in trouble," said Charbonneau. "Which is why they will venture out into the water, outside of our jurisdiction, to help somebody. It's more than we should be putting on those volunteer firefighters, to have to take the training and put themselves at risk to do something which is the responsibility of the OPP and the Coast Guard."

He said these services need to be closer to Saugeen Shores, especially since local residents pay for their services through provincial and federal taxes.

"I think everybody in our shoreline community deserves an equal level of service from them," he said.

In the near future, Charbonneau would like to at least see the OPP and Coast Guard cover the $40,000 cost, footed by the town, to ensure the volunteer firefighters have the necessary training to complete these rescues safely.

"I think somebody needs to speak up and tell [the OPP and Coast Guard] they need to make their presence more known, so they can provide the service we're paying them to provide," he said. "I think it's my job as mayor to do everything I can to protect [the volunteer firefighters] and ensure they are not being asked to do things that they shouldn't be asked to do."

Read More Local Stories