Several of the CRD’s volunteer fire department trucks are on their last wheels and due for replacement according to fire insurance requirements. Currently, the CRD is holding alternative approval processes to replace fire engines for the Kersley, Lone Butte and Forest Grove volunteer fire departments.
“Like many local governments across Canada, the CRD is faced with replacing old and aging infrastructure like water lines, sewers and equipment including fire trucks,” says CRD Vice-Chair John Massier.
“We have a lot of fire trucks timing out over the next five years and we have to replace them to keep our fire departments licensed and operating. Including the Interlakes VFD referendum last summer and these three AAPs this spring, we are planning for fourteen fire truck replacements before 2023.”
To lower the impact on taxes, the Regional District is changing how it purchases trucks by moving to ten-year debt financing rather than five-year financing. This model spreads out the purchasing cost, creates the least impact on tax rates and helps the fire department build up savings for future maintenance and truck replacements.
“Major purchases like this can have a significant impact on taxes,” Massier explains. “We are doing our best to keep taxes manageable by moving to a ten-year financing model. We are also saving the taxpayers money by holding an alternative approval process as referendums are quite costly.”
Local governments need residents’ permission to enter into debt financing arrangements longer than five years. To gather that permission, the Regional District has chosen to use an alternative approval process (AAP) to purchase new fire engines for Kersley, Lone Butte and Forest Grove.
“Last summer, we held a referendum to replace two fire trucks for the Interlakes VFD and 98 per cent voted in favour. That has given us the comfort level to use a more cost-effective form of public assent for these fire departments,” states Massier.
“Basically, if you are a qualified elector in the Kersley, Lone Butte or Forest Grove fire protection areas and you are fine with the CRD purchasing a fire truck with 10-year financing, then you do not have to do anything. If you are opposed, you need to submit the official Elector Response Form.”
An AAP is a ‘reverse’ form of public assent where the proposed change will go ahead unless at least 10 per cent of the eligible voters submit a signed Elector Response Form saying they are against the proposal. This means the CRD will purchase the trucks through ten-year financing unless 10 per cent of the residents in the specific fire protection areas object. At that point the proposal would go to a full referendum.
Visit cariboord.ca/firedepartments for the Elector Response Forms and a Frequently Asked Questions document for each AAP. The FAQs outline the impact on taxation for each fire protection area and provide more details on the alternative approval process. Signed Elector Response Forms must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
“The Kersley Volunteer Fire Department is an invaluable part of our community. I’m pleased this new engine will meet the department’s needs and support them in the selfless work they do as firefighters and first responders.” – Mary Sjostrom, Electoral Area A Director
“I am a big fan of the Lone Butte Volunteer Fire Department and can’t thank them enough for their countless hours of volunteer service. This new engine is a needed replacement for the truck they are using currently.” – Willow MacDonald, Electoral Area L Director
“Having equipment that is up to standard is critical for the work the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department does. Many thanks to all the volunteers that serve and protect our community.” – Margo Wagner, Electoral Area H Director
Page last modified: October 30, 2018 09:50:58 PDT