Fighting for Rapattack base amenities

Two Salmon Arm councillors to go to Victoria to ask ministry to keep local base intact.

Black Press file photo A B.C. Forestry Service Rapattack team trains in South Canoe. Salmon Arm council is concerned about the removal of the food service and possibly accommodation from the base. Two city councillors will be heading to Victoria to attempt to to the minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Salmon Arm Council isn’t giving up on retaining a Rapattack base with cooking facilities and accommodation in Salmon Arm.

During the past year, council has had about a dozen meetings and discussions with representatives and staff of the Wildfire Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO).

The meetings arose after FLNRO informed council in October 2016 that the room and board option at the base, which was established in the 1970s, was to be cancelled. Catering at the barracks was to end on Jan. 1, 2017 and accommodation on Jan. 1, 2018. (During the 2015 fire season, six aircrew staff and 36 rappel staff were housed onsite.)

The removal of catering went ahead in January of this year but, in September, the B.C. government reported it would be reviewing the availability of accommodation across the province for crews fighting wildfires. Gathering that information has delayed the removal of accommodation at the Salmon Arm base, which will now remain through 2018.

In the meantime, council authorized Harrison, Coun. Chad Eliason and the city’s chief administrative officer, Carl Bannister, to head to Victoria to speak directly with FLRNO Minister Doug Donaldson and staff, either this month or next, once a meeting is arranged by city staff.

“Originally we were told the reason for the change was to try to standardize bases across the province,” Harrison says. “We made the argument that the Rapattack base in Salmon Arm is unique – it’s the only one in B.C.”

They pointed to the need for a rapid response and, with help from the economic development society, provided statistics on rental accommodation in Salmon Arm during the summer.

“It’s extremely difficult to find,” he said, and is not necessarily close to the base.

Council authorized having the two councillors meet with the minister because “we want to try to close the gap with communication; communication with Wildfire Management out of Kamloops is primarily staff… We want to speak directly with the minister and staff at the same time.”

He said they’ll fight for accommodation but haven’t given up on the food services either.

Harrison pointed out that the cost to the government for catering amounted to $119,000 – fire crews pay for the service – which he characterized as a drop in the bucket when more than $50 million was spent on firefighting this past summer.

Documents obtained through Freedom of Information pertaining to the removal of accommodation and catering from the Salmon Arm Rapattack base refer to the desire for “consistency” as the prime motivator, while a cost/benefit analysis for the catering services lists no overall cost but instead, a total positive recovery benefit of $45,000.

Many people have written in support of the base, Harrison says.

“That’s what our mission is there; we certainly want to be working with the ministry in the best interests of firefighting, but certainly in the best interests of Salmon Arm… We do have some optimism; certainly our MLA Greg Kyllo is very much onside and he will join us at that meeting. We want to make sure we do everything we can to keep that accommodation there. If we don’t do a trip and something happens, you might ask yourself later – why didn’t we do more?”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vince Schnabl looks at the view this October from the Gorge, west of Revelstoke. (Photo by Jon Wichett)
There’s 3 times more snow near Revelstoke than usual

According to 54 years of data from Parks Canada for Glacier National Park

Mail in ballot, provincial election 2020. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Mail-in-ballots coming in from Columbia River Revelstoke

In a progress report Elections BC said around 45 per cent of those issued have been returned

Mayor Gary Sulz (centre) cuts the ribbon for the new roundabout. Councillor Jackie Rhind (left) and Councillor Cody Younker (right) are on either side. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke’s newest roundabout opens on Victoria Rd.

The project took approximately six months to complete

Revelstoke Drill Hall as it looked July 19, 1970; current home of Trans-Canada Fitness. (Estelle Dickey/Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 392)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Oct. 29

Local history straight from the newspaper archives

A bumble bee explores a blooming sitka valerian near the summit of Mount Revelstoke. (Nathan Kunz/Revelstoke Review)
Stoked on Science: The A – Z-B is for Bees, including now, me

Stoked on Science Jade Harvey-Berrill B is for bees. A marvellous little… Continue reading

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Homes in Summerland have been among the households in Canada to participate in radon testing. (TakeActiononRadon.ca)
Testing finds 38 per cent of Summerland homes have unsafe radon levels

Okanagan community one of 15 involved in national testing program

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Kelowna has Canada’s fastest-growing crime rate, most opioid offences per-capita

Greater Kelowna’s violent crime rate skyrocketed nearly 60 per cent

RCMP are investigating a trailer fire off Firwood Road on the Westside, discovered Oct. 27. (Google maps image)
RCMP investigate Westside trailer fire

Burned trailer discovered by RCMP Oct. 27 near Fintry

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

Myra Canyon SCARE park is located in Kelowna, British Columbia. (Photo - Twila Amato)
VIDEO: Kelowna scare park cranks up the horror

Open Oct. 29 to Oct. 31 from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Bear sightings have been reported in a residential area in Summerland in late October. The Conservation Officer Service is urging people to take measures so bears are not drawn to the area (Black Press file photo)
Bear sightings reported from Summerland neighbourhood

Conservation Officer Service urges people not to leave garbage outside

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read