The Cariboo Regional District is hoping the province will develop a policy that removes legal risks for local governments that provide funding to independent fire departments. (Photo submitted)

The Cariboo Regional District is hoping the province will develop a policy that removes legal risks for local governments that provide funding to independent fire departments. (Photo submitted)

CRD calls for elimination of liability in funding independent fire services

The board approved a draft resolution for consideration by the NCLGA

The Cariboo Regional District is hoping the province will develop a policy to eliminate liability in funding independent fire services.

During the regular meeting Thursday, Feb. 11, the board approved a draft resolution for the upcoming North Central Local Government Association AGM and convention in May asking for a policy and regulatory framework that removes any potential legal risk to regional districts providing financial or other support to independent fire halls.

Many governments are receiving legal advice that offering funding or other supports to independent fire services can expose them to legal and financial risks, said the CRD in its reasons for submitting the resolution.

Back in June 2020, the CRD announced that 10 independent volunteer fire departments within the region would no longer be eligible for CRD grants-for-assistance due to legal risks.

Read more: Grants for assistance extinguished for independent fire departments within Cariboo Regional District

In his report to the board, chief administrative officer John MacLean said if the government developed a statutory framework, the board would be able to reconsider its currently policy.

Glad to see the resolution going forward, Area F director Maureen LeBourdais, who represents the Horsefly and Big Lake volunteer fire departments in her area which are both independent, said she knows how challenging it can be for independent fire departments to get funding.

Area B director Barb Bachmeier said even if the CRD doesn’t financially support the independent fire departments they are taxpayers themselves and should be supported.

100 Mile House mayor Mitch Campsall said common sense should prevail.

“If a corporation donates money for a fire department to buy a truck it isn’t liable,” he said.

Presently the CRD does, however, oversee and fund the 108 Mile, 150 Mile, Barlow Creek, Bouchie Lake, Deka Lake, Forest Grove, Interlakes, Kersley, Lac La Hache, Lone Butte, Miocene, Ten Mile, West Fraser and Wildwood volunteer fire departments.

Area L director Willow MacDonald thanked Area D director Steve Forseth for working with staff to draft the resolution.

“You did a really good job, it addresses liability,” she said.

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