Arm Chair Mayor: Peter Humphreys On CSRD/City Fire Protection

I’m in a position, as many CSRD residents are that I do business in the City of Revelstoke, live in the CSRD and pay taxes in both. I am watching the unfolding fire protection drama with hope that the injunction fails and the current fire services agreement ends on Dec 31.

The City has indicated they will not allow firefighters to enter my house in case of a fire because we don’t have a building inspector in the CSRD. City council recently approved additional funding to increase training so they will be able to enter burning homes, just not homes in the CSRD it would appear. I would rather have no fire protection than have fire fighters hearing the screams of burning inhabitants and not be able to act. Combine this with the fact that the increase in my home insurance is only slightly more than the fire taxes I pay and I am not seeing any benefit to having the City provide fire protection in the CSRD.  We actually have more to gain in this chaos then we do to lose.

Both parties have valid points in their arguments:

The City has concerns about unsafe structures but there are also questionable structures packed with seasonal visitors that I would have concerns about in the City

Grass fires occur in the draw down area and a full sized fire engine may not be the best piece of equipment for responding to that area but what is the risk to the City if no one responds to grass fires?

The CSRD’s view is they can’t pass on huge fire protection cost increases to their taxpayers.

The benefit of the two parties ending their relationship is that it will cause both governments to review their operations. The Revelstoke Fire Department has been a sacred cow for many years. A $150,000 loss of CSRD revenue will result in a critical review of that department. It can no longer function in its current state with the loss of the CSRD funding. It also forces the CSRD out of its comfort zone and to look at where and how it spends its money.

As a fiscal conservative, I am giddy with the prospect of the chain reaction this will cause. The CSRD stops paying for fire protection, re-evaluates its contribution to the City for Recreation and checks its garbage fees to ensure the City is paying its fair share of rising garbage costs. In turn the City makes cuts to programs and services to make up for lost income. The most unimaginable scenario follows suit; waste and inefficiency is cut and taxes go down.

Understand now why I am so excited over a school yard fight?

My fear is the worst case scenario may actually play out. The classic political approach will be to tap BC Hydro for funds and have both parties throw in a bunch more money to get an agreement at the cost of the taxpayer. More money spent on a wasteful and inefficient system.

The downside is the stress it causes on the residents of the CSRD not having been consulted or communicated with except for news reports. Shame on the CSRD for allowing the issue to go to the 11th hour. They should have enacted a backup plan several months ago when negotiations failed to produce an agreement.

In my opinion.

Your Arm Chair Mayor,

Peter Humphries