Training debate blazes on

Some politicians aren’t pleased with the course of action to resolve a dispute over fire training.

Some politicians aren’t pleased with the course of action to resolve a dispute over fire training.

The North Okanagan Regional District board has instructed staff to pursue a contract with the City of Vernon over the fire training centre, but the three city representatives are opposed.

“I’d rather see us looking at other models where we are providing the most efficient service possible for everyone involved,” said Buffy Baumbrough, a Vernon director.

“I’m not convinced the alternative put forward is the best one.”

A majority of the board supports a proposal where Vernon would not have to pay towards operation of the centre if city employees took over some duties from contractors and technicians.

“It is conceivable that an amount up to the equivalent of Vernon Fire Rescue Services payment to the fire training centre in 2010, $87,000, could be provided by the way of a labour credit, effectively reducing Vernon’s FTC requisition and usage costs to zero,” said Ron Baker, NORD’s community protective services manager, in a memo.

Vernon has indicated it will withdraw from the regional service because of the costs involved and the fact that some courses being offered aren’t certified.

Wayne Lippert, a Vernon director, says the focus shouldn’t be on how to just reduce the city’s financial contribution, but on how to provide a cost-effective service overall.

“If something can be worked out and we can keep everyone involved at a higher level of service at a lower cost, the city will be willing to look at it,” he said.

Other board members, though, believe an agreement with Vernon over a labour credit may resolve the dispute.

“The fire training centre is crucial to the regional district and there has to be some method to come to terms with it. There have been some good suggestions on how to do that,” said Rick Fairbairn, rural Lumby director.

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