It may be a while yet before the Village of Pemberton gets full 911 service, as the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District shot down VOP concerns over “associated costs” at its August meeting.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy told a VOP council meeting this week that the SLRD board does not accept amendments that council made to an SLRD motion at its Aug. 12 meeting.
The SLRD motion asked VOP council to consent to establishing 911 service in the southern half of the district, which includes the Village of Pemberton and Electoral Areas C and D. If approved, the motion would have allowed 911 service on Pemberton landlines through EComm, a hub located in Vancouver that provides emergency call service to various communities.
However, Russell Mack, chief of the Pemberton Fire Department wrote in a report to VOP council that Pemberton’s own dispatchers do a “very effective” job directing people to fires.
Mack also that a central dispatch model can be effective in urban settings but that problems exist in rural areas because of a “lack of local knowledge and geography.”
“With the implementation of 911 coming to Pemberton, there is talk about contracting our dispatch needs to EComm,” Mack wrote.
“We believe that this will prove to be ineffective and cumbersome to the Pemberton Fire Department and the citizens it serves because valuable time will be wasted trying to explain to people, with little or no knowledge of the area, where they are and what they need.”
There were also concerns about the costs of linking up with EComm — approximately $160,000. That money would have gone towards upgrading radio equipment in all the areas adopting the service.
Sturdy, however, said at the Aug. 12 meeting that the Village of Pemberton has fairly new radio equipment and an updated system for its own dispatch services, and didn’t feel it was fair for Pemberton to have to share in the costs of upgrades.
Council ultimately accepted the SLRD’s motion for 911 service but tacked on two conditions: one asked VOP staff to liaise with the SLRD on how local dispatchers could be involved in the dispatch of fire and rescue services; the other was that costs would be fairly apportioned to the areas that would be getting the service.
The SLRD, however, rejected the conditions and interpreted them as the VOP’s rejection of the 911 service. Administrators with the SLRD thereafter made a recommendation to implement 911 service for SLRD Area D alone, an area that does not include the Village of Pemberton.
Sturdy said at this week’s meeting that he didn’t want to see this happen and has invited the SLRD to meet with VOP council to provide a better understanding of the costs associated with adopting 911 service.
“Some of them have suggested that it was radios and things like that,” he said. “We’ve recognized that we have a quality radio system and don’t need to update it, so hopefully we’ll see.”
Pemberton council also passed a recommendation that bicycle racks become a requirement of development permits in the VOP. All racks must be in the “Cora” style and colour coated the same as village bear bins.