Fringe fire protection options presented

Residents living in the Williams Lake fringe fire protection area learned of options for new fire agreements Sept. 13

Cariboo Regional District rural residents living in the Williams Lake fringe fire protection area learned of options for new fire agreements at a community meeting held Sept. 13 in the Gibraltar Room at the Cariboo Memorial Complex.

The 250 people in attendance heard a bylaw needs to go to the CRD board on Oct.4 and a referendum has to take place some time in November.

“The province is currently taxing you for fire protection services and has said that they aren’t going to do that anymore so we have to make a decision,” CRD chief administrative officer Janis Bell said. New agreements will need to be put in place because the present ones will expire on Dec. 31.

The new rate offered by the city for people under the Williams Lake Fire Department is $130 per $100,000 of residential assessment. Under present agreements residents are paying either $199, $102 or $191, depending which agreement they are under.

Residents accessing the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department, under the new agreements, will pay $111 per $100,000 of assessed value, while under the 150 Mile House Volunteer Fire Department the rate would be $68 per $100,000 of assessed value.

“The current formula only uses residential assessment to calculate who is going to pay what. It disregards the fact that there is an industrial tax base and a business tax base. The proposed new agreement considers all of that. It considers the entire tax base as one tax base, regardless of the one assessment base, regardless of where the boundaries of the regional district are,” Bell said. “It isn’t costing any less money for the city’s fire department. It just means the rural taxpayers are going to pay less.”

To be prudent, the CRD will probably set the rate at $140, to build in a bit of leeway, Bell added.

A map prepared by the CRD indicated areas where residents could opt for protection under Wildwood or 150 Mile House; however, Bell said residents are required to be within 13 kilometres of a fire hall to realize reduced reductions with their fire insurance.

“There’s only a certain segment of the population that has the option to go with one of the other fire departments,” Bell said, explaining if a number of people opted out of being covered by Williams Lake, then the rate would increase to about $140 for everyone else.

People who can’t be serviced by Wildwood or 150 Mile House, and who choose not to remain with Williams Lake, will have to go without fire protection, or accept to without it temporarily until residents can start up a rural fire department.

The CRD estimated a new fire hall would cost property owners $100 per $100,000 of assessed value.

That amount is based on land, a building, new pumper truck and equipment, amortized over a period of 20 years, chief financial officer Scott Reid explained.

Esler resident Bud Walters recalled helping organize rural fire departments on Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island, and said the local situation is problematic.

“When I look at the map the CRD has what I see is a logistics nightmare. We have the Esler area, we have a Dog Creek area, and we have a Fox Mountain area that are completely separate and would require three new fire halls.”

One fire hall couldn’t service Esler and Dog Creek unless a highway was built between Thunder Mountain and Mountview School, Walters said.

Monica Lachapelle from Hub International Barton Insurance Brokers told the crowd some insurance companies require people to live within eight kilometres of a fire hall; others allow for 13 km.

She also said rates don’t change if a resident is served by a volunteer fire department or the Williams Lake fire department.

“The insurance company isn’t distinguishing between which fire hall; if it’s within the required distance your rate stays the same.”

Lachapelle explained within city limits, people living near fire hydrants might pay $500 for insurance, in a fringe area they might have fire hall protection and pay $1,000.

No fire protection could cost $2,000, she said.

To help frame the referendum questions, the CRD has created a questionnaire, requiring feedback by Sept. 20 because the board will meet to go over the results on Sept. 21.

Depending on responses, there could be one or three separate questions on referendum day, Bell said.

“If there seems to be a fairly strong majority of the people that could go to Wildwood or 150 that prefer that, and a clear indication that’s their preference, then we would structure the referendum accordingly so they didn’t even vote on the issue of Williams Lake.”

After the meeting Area E director Byron Kemp said he was pleased with the turnout and the presentation done by the CRD staff.

“I don’t think everyone can agree. In my area, however, we need the Williams Lake fire department and fire service. From my point of view right now, I don’t think we can afford to put in our own fire department, unless we’re going to expand out further into Chimney Valley and the Flett Road area, which we looked at back in the late 90s,” Kemp said.

Information about the options and the questionnaire are available at or by calling 250-392-3351.

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

Just Posted

Interior Health has issued an overdose alert for 100 Mile House.
Interior Health issues overdose alert for 100 Mile House

Health officials encourage users to be careful and spread the word.

Women’s Contact Society community liaison Eileen Alberton with her dogs Luigi, left, and Sami enjoys a daily walk in Big Lake. (Photo submitted)
Women’s wellness focus of International Women’s Day events in Williams Lake

In its third year, the event will be offered virtually

A snowfall warning has been issued for Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Black Press Media)
Snowfall warning issued for Cariboo region

Between 10 to 15 cm expected

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Williams Lake’s YBC Bowlers Remy LeBlanc (back from left), coach Kevin McAlpine, Kara-lynn McAlpine, coach Lindsey Kelley, coach Lisa Mcalpine, Avrel Kidney (middle from left), Weston Kelly, Renee O’Hara, Lily Stewart, Brandon LeBlanc, Serena Kidney (front from left), Elsa Kunka and Colton Lendvoy have managed to carry on through the COVID-19 pandemic while following health guidelines. (Greg Sabatino photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Youth bowlers still throwing strikes, despite pandemic

Young bowlers have been able to carry on relatively unaffected due to the nature of the sport

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

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

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read