The Town of Qualicum Beach wants to explore opportunities to provide affordable rental housing for volunteer firefighters.
Councillor Scott Harrison made a notice of motion at council’s regular meeting on Feb. 8 for staff to draft a report on how the town could support volunteer firefighters with their accommodation needs within the community.
Harrison informed council that to become a volunteer firefighter, they are required to reside close to the town’s boundary or fire protection area. He highlighted the difficult situation of finding affordable rental housing within town, which makes it challenging to recruit and sustain paid on-call volunteers for the fire department.
“This was just about maybe getting a report in a future meeting from our CAO or from a member of staff on what we might do,” Harrison explained.
“And the reason I’m thinking about this here is that, I know that getting into housing is a very tricky thing as a local government but it’s actually a cost prevention measure. Because if we have to hire permanent firefighters because the volunteers can’t stay, that’s actually more expensive for the town by a fair bit. Full-time firefighters are wonderful to have, but they are very expensive.”
Harrison wants staff to brainstorm with the fire chief to come up with options and solutions to help volunteer firefighters find affordable rental housing.
Council unanimously endorsed a recommendation that staff explore opportunities for inclusion of firefighter housing in future affordable housing developments on town-owned land.