By Alison Taylor
A 911 service is on the horizon for residents living in the regional district.
The proposed service will stretch throughout the region and will include Lillooet and Pemberton, which are currently without a 911 service. Whistler and Squamish are the only two areas in the region which have a 911 Emergency Call Answer Service.
At MondayÕs Squamish-Lillooet Regional District meeting there were calls from Area C Director Susan Gimse to split the service in half — the southern portion of the district, which includes Area C, Pemberton and Area D, would pay for their portion of the service and the north, which includes Area A, B and Lillooet, would pay for theirs.
Gimse put this proposal forward because it would lower the cost for taxpayers in the south.
ÒWe need to be responsible about the kind of tax burden we put on our citizens,Ó said Gimse.
She later pointed out that Pemberton and Area C are being asked to pay more for their garbage service now that WhistlerÕs landfill is closing. The increased costs for that have yet to be determined but are in the order of 15 to 20 per cent.
According to the SLRD staff report to the board the 911 service will cost the southern participants roughly $50 more in the first year if itÕs one service for the whole district as opposed to two separate services. That $50 is based on a house with an assessed value of $500,000. In subsequent years the cost on the same house will be just over $8.
On the other hand the report states: ÒSeparating the 911 call answer service into two service areas results in marginally lower costs for the southern participants and significantly greater costs for the northern participants.Ó
As such Gimse drew fire from the northern directors with her proposal.
ÒIt gives those of us in the northÉ an even greater feeling of alienation from those in the south,Ó said Area A Director Russ Oakley. ÒI think this whole thing is divisive, this type of resolution.Ó
Area B Director Mickey Macri said: ÒWe should be looking at this as a very important, all SLRD area concern.Ó
GimseÕs resolution, though supported by Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner, was not supported by the majority of the board who voted to move ahead with one service for the whole district.
After her resolution failed, Gimse pointed out that the board will need all its members to sign off on the 911 service if it is to proceed, highlighting that two directors have voted against the first three readings of the bylaw.
The 911 bylaw will now go to municipal councils and the electoral area directors for their consent.
Initial funding for the service is expected to cost the SLRD approximately $40,000.