Last week the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) and the City of Williams Lake started the next round of negotiations to develop a new agreement for fire protection services in the Williams Lake rural fringe area, the CRD communications manager Shelly Burich announced Tuesday, Aug. 28.
A majority of the Williams Lake rural fringe property owners are covered by a provincial fire protection agreement that pre-dates the establishment of the regional district.
The province has been requesting the CRD and City to negotiate a new fire protection agreement for the fringe property owners for a number of years.
With the pending expiry of the two adjacent CRD fire protection agreements, in 2011 the CRD and City established a sub-committee to negotiate a new consolidated fire protection agreement for all three fringe areas.
Burich continues the results of those negotiations were presented to council earlier this year at which time council rejected the proposal for a new agreement.
The provincial government subsequently issued a letter advising that the provincial fire protection agreement would be terminated on Dec. 31, 2012.
Based on that letter the CRD and the City have agreed to resume negotiations to try to negotiate a new agreement.
The new agreement would see the Williams Lake Fire Department continue to provide fire protection to Williams Lake rural fringe property owners under one amalgamated agreement with a fair and equitable cost-sharing arrangement for all property owners.
In order to provide affected Williams Lake rural fringe residents with a November, 2012 referendum, a new agreement needs to be presented to the Cariboo Regional District board of directors in October, giving the committee only three to four weeks to reach agreement, Burich says.
The parties will meet again this week to continue discussions.
The Cariboo Regional District will be hosting public meetings in September to provide affected CRD residents with updates about the negotiations. Meeting dates and locations will be announced soon.