At the March Regional District of Kootenay Boundary meeting, the board approved going ahead with an Alternate Approval Process (AAP) to ask Area C/Christina Lake electors whether they are opposed to the RDKB borrowing $1,285,000 to buy a new tender/pumper engine, a primary fire rescue engine, a command vehicle, a heater and boiler, an exhaust removal system and a self-contained breathing apparatus cascading system for Christina Lake Fire and Rescue.
The RDKB said new firefighting equipment is required for better fire protection and to allow the Christina Lake Fire and Rescue Service to meet a Class 1 Public Fire Protection Classification (PFPC) with the Fire Underwriters of Canada. Meeting this standard also allows for lower home insurance rates for property owners in the region.
The RDKB still needs Government of B.C. approval to go ahead with the process and expects to receive an answer in the coming weeks.
Area C/Christina Lake electors will be notified well in advance of the AAP going forward.
The RDKB said loan for the fire equipment would be repaid over a period of no more than 20 years and residents would pay an additional four to fourteen dollars in property taxes per $100,000 of property value annually, increasing from the lowest amount to the highest over a four year period.
The RDKB said alternative to borrowing the money over the 20 year period is to use short-term borrowing that will result in higher costs for residents but less interest paid and ownership in a shorter period
What is an Alternate Approval Process?
An alternative approval process allows electors to indicate whether they are against a local government proposal moving forward. Local governments are required to obtain approval of the electors before they can proceed with certain decisions. Loan authorization bylaws —like the one that would allow the RDKB to borrow money to buy new fire suppression equipment for Christina Lake Fire and Rescue— require elector approval. If fewer than 10 per cent of eligible electors oppose the decision by completing an Elector Response Form before a deadline, then the AAP proposal passes. If more than 10 per cent of eligible voters oppose it, then it fails and local government can either hold a referendum (assent vote) within 80 days on the same decision, or put the matter on hold and consider alternatives.