The equipment and support needs of rural communities, many of whom drive the resource economies of our province, needs to be fully funded

The equipment and support needs of rural communities, many of whom drive the resource economies of our province, needs to be fully funded

“There is no question about the importance of our first responders, and the valuable service they provide.  They should not be left without the supports they need.”

Recently the Mayor of Port Hardy, Dennis Dugas, spoke about calls endorsed by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) regarding the necessity of providing provincial funding; “for the purchase of Fire Emergency Equipment and Infrastructure.” 

Dugas went on to say that the 4.4% tax imposed on auto insurance for fire, and property insurance for fire, was always intended for fire protection, but has instead gone into general revenues.

The Conservatives John Twigg, who is running in the Island North riding which includes Port Hardy, is well aware of the situation.

In a statement by Twigg, he remarked, “Whether it is a rural municipality in an area hard-hit by the loss of resources jobs, or any other small rural community that counts on their volunteer fire department, governments in recent years have stepped away from their obligations.”

There is also another issue for these volunteer fire departments says Steve Forseth, the Area “D” representative for the Cariboo Regional District.

Many Regional Districts including the Cariboo, Thompson Nicola and Peace River, have been providing grants for their local fire brigades and independent fire departments. Now, as a result of unacceptable legal liability they are no longer able to do this.”

He went on to say, “Ultimately the province needs to clarify its policies and legislation, and remove local governments from any legal liability when they are contributing grants to independent fire department societies and fire brigades.”

Meantime, a long-standing member of a rural fire department, told Peace River South candidate, Kathleen Connally that it’s very frustrating;

Volunteer fire departments are being burdened by bureaucracy, liability, training restraints, unrealistic expectations for service.  I don't think if any of us are asking for handouts, just support.”  

"I could write a book on the last few years of power struggles for control and forced bureaucracy and funding and recognition of unique needs of truly rural fire departments”, the Peace River resident continued.

Peace River South candidate Kathleen Connally says BC’s Conservatives want to see changes made.

The provincial government definitely needs to look at liability rules when it comes to these fire departments. Good Samaritans who volunteer in the communities they live and work in should not be worried about health and liability issues, when they go out to help their neighbours.”

Mayor Dugas of Port Hardy asked a very important question of those running to become the next elected representatives in the provincial legislature; he inquired if they would support the insurance premium tax, which was intended for fire protection, be made available, as intended, to support small rural communities and their training and equipment needs?

Today Conservative BC leader Trevor Bolin announced that he and other elected Conservative MLA’s will make it a priority to see that tax revenues identified by Dugas were indeed used for the purposes intended, and not vanish into General Revenues.

Bolin stated, The equipment and support needs of rural communities, many of whom drive the resource economies of our province, needs to be fully funded.”

“There is no question about the importance of our first responders, and the valuable service they provide.  They should not be left without the supports they need.”

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  • Trevor Bolin
    published this page in NEWS 2020-10-20 11:10:50 -0700