The Thompson-Nicola Regional District has approved one year of additional funding for the 70 Mile House Volunteer Firefighters Association.
This means the department will receive an additional $30,000 of funding through taxation to operate for 2023. The TNRD said this is a one-time-only extension.
“For clarity, all the reasons for the staff recommendation to cease funding in 2018 have not changed. Staff continue to recommend that direct funding of non-TNRD fire services should end,” the report read.
Dennis Huber, the association’s board chairman, said this news, while welcome, still leaves the fire department in limbo. Huber said the TNRD hasn’t been communicating their plans to him or the community as a whole lately.
“This would have been the last year they would have been forwarding the taxation money to us,” Huber said. “They’re doing a feasibility study to see whether it’d be feasible to amalgamate us with the South Green Lake Volunteer Fire Department but I haven’t heard a word from them in respect to it at this point.”
Huber said he is on the fence about the department being merged with any other fire department. If it’s going to end up costing 70 Mile House taxpayers more, he said it’s unlikely the community will accept the option.
In 2018 the TNRD voted to cease funding for all fire services not administered by the TNRD effective Dec. 21, 2022, including for 70 Mile House. Of the six departments operating independently only 70 Mile’s fire department declined to transition into TNRD administration.
Huber said the fire department can be largely self-sufficient between fundraising and applying for grants. However, the cost of training that the TNRD funds usually cover is the community’s main area of concern.
After seeking alternative funding options, the TNRD commissioned a $20,000 feasibility study to look at options for the department earlier this year. Due to delays, the report is not expected until mid-2023, which is why the TNRD has extended the department’s funding.
“We want to ensure the results of the feasibility study are presented to the community and based on that information, residents can express whether or not they want the TNRD to move forward with a public assent process.”