The Regional District of Central Kootenay will hold three separate referendums on Dec. 2 to authorize loans to buy new fire engines for the North Shore, Winlaw, and Tarrys fire departments.
RDCK board members approved the loan authorization request in June and staff have been preparing the public consultation process.
In previous years, the RDCK approved similar loan authorization bylaws using short term financing and capital reserves, according to a media release from the RDCK.
Because short-term financing authorizations don’t require voter consent prior to purchase, a referendum has not been necessary in the past. For these loans however, the RDCK is recommending long-term financing over 20years, which requires electoral consent.
The recommendation to authorize long-term financing in this case can be credited to inflation, according to the media release that stated inflation has driven the price of new fire engines up to $750,000 each.
The loan authorization request was made as a requirement to ensure all departments in the region are up to certain fire protection codes, stated the media release.
Standards under the National Fire Protection Association, Underwriters Laboratories of Canada and Fire Underwriters require every fire service in the country to have a fire engine and water tender that are both less than 25 years old, which means replacements are needed at three of the region’s fire stations within the next two years.
The engine at the North Shore fire department will need to be replaced in 2024, and both engines at Tarrys and Winlaw will need replacing in 2025.
“A group purchasing approach will be utilized when procuring these fire engines to realize cost savings for each service,” said Nora Hannon, RDCK regional fire chief.
“Fire service staff realize the inflationary pressures facing our communities and are working to reduce the impact by asking residents to approve long term financing rather than pay over a shorter five-year term.”
Some of the engine replacement costs will be covered through the province’s Growing Community Fund, which saw $1 billion in grants distributed throughout the province to help support infrastructure projects.
The RDCK was allocated $3.9 million from the fund which was dispersed among fire, community, environmental and administration services.
For the North Shore engine, the fund contributed $144,982. Thanks to an additional $237,000 contribution from capital reserve, the referendum in Area F will be to authorize a smaller loan of up to $368,000 to be paid back over a 20-year term.
The growing communities fund will contribute $126,745 towards the replacement of the engine at Tarrys. A referendum will be held in portions of electoral Area I for the approval of $623,255 and 20-year financing for the purchase.
A referendum for the authorization of the full $750,000 price of a new engine in Winlaw will be held in Area H and the Village of Slocan.
Electoral Area H did receive funding through the growing communities fund, but it was put towards another fire engine in Crescent Valley earlier this year.
Advanced voting is set to begin Nov. 22. Additionally, open houses will be held at each fire department throughout October for residents to learn more about the referendum process, as follows:
Winlaw Fire Department
Tuesday, October 10
6 to 8 p.m.
5741 Highway 6, Winlaw
Tarrys Fire Department
Wednesday, October 11
6 to 8 p.m.
2103 Highway 3A, Castlegar
North Shore Fire Department
Sunday, October 15
3 to 5 p.m.
2703 Greenwood Road, Nelson