Calgary Fire Department could lose K-9 unit in budget adjustments

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WATCH: Global News has learned that job cuts may be coming to the Calgary Fire Department. As Gary Bobrovitz reports, that could mean losing the K-9 unit – Dec 11, 2017

As the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) aims to trim $4.5 million from its 2018 budget, there is concern as to whether the department’s K-9 unit will survive the cuts.

Sources tell Global News the defunding of the K-9 program would cost the CFD investigations unit two staff members, who would be returned to general fire suppression duty.

Earlier this month, Calgary city council approved its 2018 operating budget which saw CFD’s money trimmed.

READ MORE: Calgary city council passes 2018 budget with property tax hike

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for CFD said the department could not comment on the story because no final decisions have been made on the 2018 CFD budget and that budget adjustment is an ongoing process.

The chair of the City of Calgary’s community and protective services committee said Monday she felt any notion of eliminating the K-9 unit was ridiculous.

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“I think it’s a really bad idea,” said Diane Colley-Urquhart. “When you look at the fact that we just give the police $20 million in their budget, and they have a K-9 unit with a number of dogs, this is something the public would never support — where things have reduced themselves to that extent that they’re actually thinking of getting rid of the sniffer dogs — they’re tremendously valuable.”

“We’ve invested a lot in that program, so there’s no way I could see we would allow this to proceed.”

READ MORE: Calgary firefighters battle blaze at Glendale house

Colley-Urquhart said unlike the Calgary Police Service, which maintains an arm’s length from political influence in how it manages its budget, the city’s protective services committee could intervene if CFD was to cut the K-9 program

“Absolutely we can get in there, and say, ‘Please — you’re not going to reduce the budget in this way.’ If there’s an issue with this, then we’re going to have to find the resources to maintain that program.”

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