CRD plans fringe fire protection feasibility study

CRD will continue to pursue an agreement with city for fire protection, but will also do a feasibility study of its own fringe fire service.

The Cariboo Regional District will continue to pursue an agreement with the city on fringe fire protection past the one-year agreement in place until Dec. 31, but it will also do a feasibility study regarding developing its own fire service for the area.

“We need to do due diligence and take the steps to ensure we have something in place if we’re not successful in reaching an agreement,” CAO Janis Bell said during a public meeting at the Gibraltar Room Friday.

Earlier that day the CRD board approved $90,000 for the feasibility study, with all directors voting in favour of the funding except for the city’s representative Coun. Sue Zacharias.

“We are commencing the steps to establish a CRD fringe area fire department. That $90,000 comes from the feasibility fund and will allow us to start working on the steps to start our own service,” Bell said. She explained that moving forward with the feasibility study does not mean the two parties cannot come to an agreement for the city to continue to provide fire protection.

“That door is open and is not going to be closed in the immediate future,” she said. “We are cognizant of the fact that council passed a resolution earlier this week to try and arrange another meeting.”

So far 42 residents have indicated they’d be willing to serve as volunteer fire-fighters and the CRD is soliciting for more people to step forward.

The CRD is in discussions with a professional trainer to talk about opportunities to begin training.

Staff are trying to secure a site and appropriate apparatus for training, and are nearing finalizing those arrangements.

Bell also said if the agreement with the city does not proceed then the CRD will consider reconfiguring the boundaries.

“The more people that can get the service is a benefit for them because it gives us a larger tax base to fund operations and population base to draw from.”

Estimated costs for running the fire service would be $100 per $100,000 of assessment.

Among the questions asked by the public, one person wanted to know how much the city was willing to offer the service for, but Bell said the CRD did not have a definitive figure.

Under the provincial figure the city had received an average of $720,000 from three existing agreements.

“We agreed to use total assessment formula as the basis and the $129 per $100,000 falls under that. That would have been a reduction down to $550,000.”

The agreement for 2013 is $579,221.

While some residents said building a duplicate fire service seems “crazy,” others suggested, negotiating one term past the existing one, and waiting it out until there’s a new city council elected to see if that makes a difference in reaching an agreement.

CRD chair Al Richmond said it’s hard to predict what will happen politically, but said the CRD is trying to deal with the bill it received for over $700,000 for fire protection after the new fire hall was built.

“Our phones were ringing off the hook with you asking how come you were paying so much money so we tried to negotiate a new deal. We’ve come to an agreement for one year,” Richmond said. “I don’t know how many agreements we want to go forward with but as elected officials we need to get down to task and find a solution.”

The CRD is encouraged by the city’s willingness to meet, but also wants to pursue a plan because it doesn’t want to end up without an agreement and no plan in place, he added.

“You do have to ask why there is such a huge disparity in costs of fire protection I’ve done budget comparisons with other fire departments with more full-time staff and and more vehicles and the costs aren’t as high,” Richmond said.

He questioned why the same funding formula used for the hospital, Deni House, or the recreation complex cannot be implemented.

“It’s been suggested to the city, but at this time the city doesn’t feel it’s acceptable and has its reasons. We’re trying to find somewhere between the two. We believe the other services we mutually enjoy and are hoping to work around that.”

Richmond said he agreed it’s “silly” to set up two fire halls, but at this point doesn’t know what else the CRD can do.

Approximately 26 per cent of the calls to the Williams Lake fire hall go to the rural fringe, and include attending motor vehicle accidents, Bell said.

Others indicated a new fire hall is the way to go and asked where the CRD rural hall might be located.

Bell said the CRD has identified a number of locations and it would have to be in relatively “close” proximity to the existing city fire hall to make sure nobody is left out.

Another person suggested the CRD needs a longterm view because the rural fringe is growing compared to the city, while someone said it’s difficult because CRD taxpayers have no say over a city-run facility.

In response to a comment made by a resident at the meeting, that the city is not purchasing equipment to meet the needs of the rural fringe, the city said it purchased a tanker that carries 2,500 gallons of water and when purchased, consideration was given for use in the fringe area.

There will be a follow up meeting with residents on Thursday, April 25.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Interior Health reported 43 new COVID-19 cases in the region Feb. 23, 2021 and no additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
43 new cases of COVID reported in Interior Health

No new deaths, Williams Lake outbreak over

A COVID-19 sign is seen last spring at the First Nations community of Canim Lake (Tsq’ scen). (Martina Dopf photo)
Another Canim Lake elder dies of COVID-19

The man was the husband of an elder who died last month outside the community.

Pink Shirt Day is Feb. 24.
This Pink Shirt Day let’s ‘lift each other up’

There are several warning signs regarding bullying:

The COVID-19 cluster in the Williams Lake area has been declared contained by Interior Health. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Interior Health declares Williams Lake area COVID-19 cluster contained

Four new cases have been reported since Feb. 19

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Justin Morissette is still recovering from the injuries sustained in the altercation. He is not yet able to walk without assistance. (Justin Morissette, Twitter)
B.C. man suing city and police over violent altercation with anti-LGBTQ preacher

Justin Morissette argues police knew the threat the preacher posed, and failed to keep the peace

Jack Barnes, who was Cowichan Valley Capitals property from May 2020 until last week, scores a goal for the Penticton Vees during the 2019-20 BCHL season. (Brennan Phillips/Black Press)
COVID-crunched BCHL facing trade deadline dilemma with its 20-year-olds

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

UBC Okanagan students are among the most food insecure in Canada, according to a new study by UBC.
(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
UBC Okanagan students among most food insecure in Canada

42.3 per cent either can’t properly feed themselves, or are worried they will soon run out of money

Oliver Elementary School. (File)
Interior Health reports potential COVID-19 exposure at South Okanagan elementary school

Interior Health lists two dates for the potential exposure

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

Most Read