Fire service battle leaves director fuming

One politician believes bureaucracy could force plans for fire protection to go up in smoke.

Mike Gavinchuk, Area B director, is accusing North Okanagan Regional District staff and some directors of standing in the way of the City of Vernon providing firefighting to the rural Commonage.

“The more I deal with you people, it’s sad,” he told his colleagues Wednesday.

“We had it all set up. The bureaucracy has got in the way.”

Gavinchuk recently held discussions with members of city council and both sides agreed that the next step was to determine how many of the 90 property owners would be interested in participating in the service.

However, NORD staff have indicated there is a need for the city to establish projected costs before residents are approached.

“It will matter to people whether it costs $500 or $2,000,” said administrator Greg Betts.

Wayne Lippert, Vernon director, insists the city must have a sense of residents’ interest before putting time into developing costs.

“All we’re asking for is information and it appears like staff doesn’t want to do it,” said Lippert.

“The city is still willing to look at this but we just want some basic information. We need to know roughly what we are wanted to do there and regional district staff is stonewalling.”

Gavinchuk agrees with the process the city wants to follow.

“We should just contact the people to see if they’re interested,” he said.

Besides costs, NORD staff insists other details are required from the city because the Commonage does not have fire hydrants.

“Vernon doesn’t have a tender (tanker truck) with sufficient water supply,” said Ron Baker, protective services manager.

“If the city doesn’t have the equipment or water, that would be important to know before we engage in consultation with property owners.”

The issue of fire protection for the Commonage was ultimately postponed for two months so information can be gathered by the regional district and the city regarding who wants to participate in the service.