Fire Protection: Hopeful For A “Win, Win” Situation

Tension is still thick between the City of Revelstoke and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) when it comes to the Area-B fire protection debacle.

The CSRD was granted their injunction and the City must continue to provide fire protection service to Area B until the date of June 1st, 2018. Both parties have to agree on either new terms or the CSRD will have to agree to the terms in which the City previously proposed and adopted in 2017, which appears to be unlikely.

In a letter sent to the City (January, 3rd), CSRD Chief Administrative Officer, Charles Hamilton states that “We have informed you on numerous occasions that we are not prepared to sign a “blank cheque” on the issue of a new tender and allow the City to dictate CSRD capital expenditures.”

This was in response to the claims that the CSRD have yet to respond to the Cities initial proposal. “We have clearly and consistently advised the City that the “offer” is not acceptable.”

The CSRD have a far different view on this issue and it dates back 37 years. They would like to see fair and reasonable accounting of the portions of the payments made by the Area B residents over that exact time frame. Preferably, they would like to see where that money has been allocated over the years and how did it benefit Area B in particular, as well as open up a dialogue to discuss apportionment based on per capita, per building and fair treatment of its citizens.

Hamilton is hopeful for a clean slate on both sides and to have a proper discussion about new terms. If the matter does not come to a resolve by the new deadline (June 1st, 2018), it could go to court.

“I do not want it to go to court. I want a win, win situation. We were presented with a take or leave it approach, we pay into the system but have no say in its governance. The RFD  budget in 2012 was 1.19 Million and it jumped to 1.779 Million- that’s a 587 thousand dollar increase. It is simply not sustainable. This cost increases, scares the hell out of me.” Hamilton told the Revelstoke Current.

This issue has been forewarned by the City of Revelstoke to the CSRD long before the December, 31st deadline. Numerous attempts were made to begin the dialogue about this matter as far back as 2013, however, the City would like to see this matter resolved amicably by the new deadline.

Chief Operating Officer (CAO) Alan Chabot told the Revelstoke Current “Council approved a $75,000 capital credit towards a water tender that would primarily service the surrounding area. For the draw down zone, a special off road side-by-side with equipment skid would be used and operating costs would be paid for by the Revelstoke Fire Department.”

The cost of the side-by-side vehicle would be picked up by BC Hydro, the maintenance, operating cost and insurance would be paid for by the RFD and the ownership of the ATV would be with the CSRD.

BC Hydro, is ready and willing to spend up to $50K on an All Terrain Vehicle, however this purchase hinges on the CSRD and the City coming to terms on an agreement that suits both parties.

During the phone interview Hamilton responded to the $75,000 capital credit, “The capital credit was a latent issue. We have been making payments to capital for years. We pay 6% of it the fire department budget, but we still have to purchase this water tender. A bone of contention is we pay into this capital fund and they purchased a ladder truck. That doesn’t help the CSRD.”

The CSRD is planning to hold a meeting with Area B residents to discuss the service sometime in February. Notices will issued for those concerned.