City council, Tuesday, approved a statement outlining its position on fringe fire protection agreements. Five main points are contained in the city’s statement.
First, that the city supports a new amalgamated fire protection agreement that will replace the provincial agreement and Phase One and Phase Two agreements with the Cariboo Regional District.
Secondly, that the new fire agreement be based on the existing boundaries identified in the original agreements between the province and the regional district.
If as a result of the CRD fire protection referendum on Nov. 24 there are any changes to these boundaries, that information will need to be brought back for council’s consideration.
Thirdly, that the city and the CRD work together to produce joint press releases to alleviate confusion prior to the November referendum.
Fourthly, that the new fire protection agreement be made on a five-year term, with an option to renew for a further five-year term.
Intense debate occurred around the fifth and final point — that the cost of providing the service be based on total net taxable assessed values for all property classes of land and improvements in the City of Williams Lake and the rural fringe areas.
Coun. Ivan Bonnell argued the fire protection agreements were changed in 1993 to reflect total residential assessment because the city at that time had invested in its water system, particularly its capacity for water storage and access to hydrants, benefitin, rural fringe areas. “That needs to be reflected in the cost,” Bonnell said.
Bonnell, along with councillors Surinderpal Rathor and Danica Hughes, opposed the fifth point, and voted against approving the city’s statement.
The CRD referendum will ask affected residents throughout the entire fringe area that currently receive services from the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department if they wish to continue to receive those fire protection services, for approximately $129/$100,000 of estimated 2013 residential assessment. If the vote is successful, residents will continue to receive service by the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department. If the vote is unsuccessful, effective Jan. 1, 2013, residents will no longer have fire protection services.