Victoria Battalion Chief Vince Cullen on the scene of the kitchen fire last year. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

Sparks continue as CRD seeks more info on single regional fire dispatch – again

The Planning and Protective Services Committee meets again May 9

Yet more details surrounding the potential for a single regional fire dispatch is expected at the CRD Planning and Protective Services Committee May 23.

In April, the committee perused another staff report in a series investigating cost and major operational reasons for a shared model.

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“This is a deeper dive into the topic,” said director Colin Plant, a Saanich councillor, during the April 11 meeting.

Plant was looking to learn more about the “class” of estimates offered for the different siting options.

“I’m not anti CRD in any way, I’m a part of this team but I think we need more information,” he said, admitting he’s interested in one site where it is, in Saanich. “I have five pages of questions that I could go through today.”

Instead, he suggested, the committee could submit its questions and hopefully hear more during the next meeting, set for Wednesday.

“I don’t think the report talks enough about the differences in technology and what that does. The difference in the two different models. I believe there are differences between these services that we need to understand,” Plant said. “The Saanich proposal is more expensive … I think there are some costing components in the CRD one that would likely make these very similar.”

“There is an opportunity here still, regardless of what some municipalities may be doing to make sure that we have fulsome information, make sure that the report is fully ready and that the decision we make is the best,” agreed director Ryan Windsor, mayor of Central Saanich

He hopes to see a model that lasts decades and beyond meaning a little extra time is a good approach.

“Good decisions come from good information,” agreed director Nils Jensen, mayor of Oak Bay.

His major question surrounds CREST costs both direct and indirect.

“That’s an important aspect and perhaps the long-term cost too although that might be difficult to ascertain, of having a separate entity in Surrey,” Jensen said.

He suggests governance is an important aspect to factor in, and would itself create efficiencies.

“We’ll get to the best solution for the CRD. I would urge those five communities just to see if they can’t pause,” Jensen said.

After shopping around for a better price, North Saanich, Sidney, Colwood, View Royal and Esquimalt accepted proposals from the City of Surrey instead of the Saanich dispatch service.

“I don’t see that changing at this time,” said Alice Finall, mayor of North Saanich. “However I do agree that the wish of all of the fire departments in the region is that there should be a regional model. And so any information that is of assistance in the long term decisions that would have to be made… I do see this as much more a long term than a short term prospect.”

The Planning and Protective Services Committee meets again May 23 at 9:30 a..m at the Crd, 625 Fisgard St.

*This story has been edited to reflect the correct meeting date.


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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