CSRD requesting mediation to settle fire services dispute

An agreement must be in place before Dec. 31 or service will be pulled for Area B

Negotiations between the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the City of Revelstoke regarding the rural fire services agreement continue.

The latest development in a series of correspondence has the CSRD asking the City of Revelstoke to enter into a mediation process and that they provide confirmation that services will not be withdrawn on Dec. 31.

The CSRD’s Nov. 17 letter is in response to correspondence received from the City of Revelstoke regarding the proposed agreement and discussions at Nov. 14 council.

Charles Hamilton, chief administrative officer with the CSRD said that he’s had several discussions with Mayor Mark McKee and Area B Director Loni Parker regarding the agreement. He says that after the CSRD received the letter, the City of Revelstoke council revisited a few of the agreement’s proposed terms in an in-camera meeting.

Council conceded the service charge would only increase 110 per cent rather than 112.5 per cent and that the CSRD would receive a $15,000 per year capital cost reduction in recognition of the cost of the 3,000 gallon water tender.

RELATED: Water tender, service cost increase at head of fire services negotiations

Hamilton said that McKee “has been very instrumental in trying to broker a deal between the two parties – and he was the driving force in securing the two concessions.”

But after consulting with Parker and CSRD staff, Hamilton said, “We do not believe the agreement is acceptable in its current form.”

Following a Nov. 16 CSRD board meeting, the CSRD requested that service not be cut off on Dec. 31 and that the City enter into a mediation process to negotiate the agreement.

In Nov. 28 City of Revelstoke council agenda documents, it appears that the City is not amicable to the suggestions of the CSRD.

“Throughout the course of more than 20 months of negotiation the Agreement has been modified a number of times in order to reach agreement,” writes City of Revelstoke CAO Allan Chabot in a report to council. “By suggesting mediation at this late hour and indication that the agreement ‘…is not acceptable in its current form as a number of issues remain outstanding…’ the CSRD risks the City not being in a position to lawfully provide the service after December 31, 2017.”

At the Nov. 16 CSRD board meeting, McKee warned that he didn’t think Revelstoke city council would agree to the suggestions in the letter.

RELATED: Debate heats up over fire protection

“I think we’ve thrown out a couple of olive branches but they’re not acceptable, I don’t think this is going to fly,” said McKee. “I know what council will say, they will be rejecting it.

“Unfortunately it looks like we’ll be going down a path of fire services being discontinued. It’s definitely not where I want to be going, but I don’t see how this is gonna get changed in time.”

The matter was in front of Revelstoke council on Nov. 26. Check revelstokereview.com for updates.

“Genuine efforts to reach agreement on a replacement agreement have been ongoing for a number of years and continue to this day,” writes Chabot. “A new, modern rural firefighting agreement for rural fire protection is in the best interest of all parties and remains a priority for the City.”


 

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marissa.tiel@revelstokereview.com

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