Williams Lake Tribune

Williams Lake fringe residents will continue to receive fire protection service

Residents in the fringe area of Williams Lake are assured of fire protection now that a B.C. Supreme Court Justice has granted an injunction to the Cariboo Regional District to allow the City of Williams Lake to continue to offer fire protection services to Areas D, E, F of the Cariboo Regional District.

The service will continue from Jan. 1, 2013 for 120 days at the maximum rate of $147/$100,000 of residential assessment.

“We accomplished what we set out to do, which was to provide continuous fire protection to the Williams Lake fringe fire protection area, so we’re relieved about that,” said CRD chair Al Richmond.

The results of the CRD’s fringe fire protection referendum on Nov. 24 — 978 in favour and 30 against — was a key point in the injunction’s success, he added.

“We feel the judge upheld the referendum and that we do have an agreement with the city of Williams Lake. We want to move forward with that agreement.”

The next step for the CRD will be to hold a public meeting on Thursday, Jan. 17 where staff and board members will have more detailed information and options to share with affected residents, and to hear feedback.

For its part, the city said Friday it supported the injunction process to ensure that rural residents would receive fire protection service.

The city had no legal means available to supply fire protection services to rural residents in the absence of an agreed to contract.

“The city will honour all conditions of the injunction,” Mayor Kerry Cook said, adding at no time did the city threaten or intend to withdraw rural fire protection services from areas of the CRD, but was focused on the cost of the service, not the provision of the service.

“The city did provide two different offers, and the CRD chose not to accept those,” Cook said. “This is a disagreement over costs, period. The city has always intended to continue to offer fire protection services to the rural fringe fire protection area, and this injunction enables us to do that.”

The city also said neither parties were granted court costs.

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