With the March 1 fire service withdrawal deadline looming, Electoral Area C has offered $15,000 to the Village of Pemberton to offset operating costs.
VOP council raised the issue of how to cost effectively service the community outside the existing fire protection zone earlier this year.
Acknowledging Electoral Area C’s offer of $15,000, Mayor Jordan Sturdy said, “It’s a good start; it’s good support from Area C.”
At issue was what mayor and council perceived as a financial inequity, with the VOP absorbing the cost of fighting fires throughout the Pemberton valley and north to D’Arcy.
Statistics pertaining to fire calls revealed that more than half of serviced calls were coming from outside the area.
Mayor Sturdy estimated that Area C should be paying $70,000 a year. However, Area C director Susie Gimse took, and continues to take, umbrage with how the statistic were interpreted, saying that many of the calls were related to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). While it’s standard procedure for fire trucks to be dispatched to assist in MVAs, this service is provided under a separate budget.
“That offer is contingent on council removing the March 1 deadline,” said Gimse.
Fire services outside the current VOP boundaries have been hard hit this year. November saw the near collapse of Birken’s uncertified volunteer fire department, while last month Mt. Currie lost its old site fire station and truck, ironically in a fire.
According to Lori Pilon, chief administrative officer for the VOP, negotiations between Area C and the VOP are ongoing.