Commonage fire service reconsidered

A review will be initiated into extending emergency services into an area outside of Vernon.

On Monday, council instructed city staff to look at the feasibility of providing fire protection to the Commonage part of the North Okanagan Regional District, and the potential cost of the service.

“There is no guarantee we will do this,” said Mayor Wayne Lippert, adding that the final figures must work for both the city and the property owners.

Presently, there is no fire protection for the about 98 properties on Commonage Road, Bailey Road and Highway 97.

The properties are within the BX-Swan Lake electoral area, and the only fire department and the only fire hall in that jurisdiction is on Silver Star Road.

However, the shortest distance from the BX hall to the Commonage is 13 kilometres and response times during an emergency could exceed 20 minutes.

NORD officials believe the only viable option for fire protection is entering into a contract with the city.

In December, council denied a request to provide fire protection because of concerns around fire equipment access and the condition of rural roads.

However, Lippert says some of the information council had at the time may be out of date, and there is a need to reconsider the matter.

“The city tries to keep the best interests of Greater Vernon residents in mind,” he said.

Besides a fee-for-service from the contract, Lippert says city taxpayers could benefit directly financially.

“With a Predator Ridge fire hall coming on line, having more people involved will help offset costs,” he said.

 

It has also been suggested that quick action from firefighters could ensure that a wildfire in the Commonage does not spread and threaten homes in the city.