Alix council hears opposition to fire policy changes

·2 min read

Alix village council heard some residents speak out against changes to a proposed fire protection policy.

The policy was then passed at the Jan. 6 regular meeting of council, held via Zoom to meet pandemic requirements.

Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White on public feedback to the proposed village fire department policy, primarily fees to be charged for certain fire department services.

For example, the policy notes if the department responds to a fire call, the fee charges for a fire engine for over the first hour of work will be billed out at $500 for that first hour, while answering false alarms will be billed at no charge for the first one, $100 for the second one, $200 for the third one and $300 for any additional false alarms.

The complete list of fire department fees is available on the Village of Alix website.

The bylaw states, “NOTE: Fees will not be charged for call outs that are strictly Medical First Response.”

She noted the village received two responses from the public from November notices placed on the village website, on the backs of village utility bills and hard copies which were available at the village office.

The first response was in written form from Gary Thompson and Jodi Henry and stated, “Concerns regarding the new proposed user fees for emergency service. Will anything be deducted or refunded on the taxes I already pay for this service?

“I realize the insurance companies will most likely absorb this cost if needed, however, this gives the insurance company legitimate reasons to raise rates considerably.

“I feel this seems like ‘double dipping’ on the part of the county. Why am I paying for this service twice should I ever need it?

“I’ve been paying for fire protection coverage for the last 16 years and never used it – Does this mean I get a rebate?”

White noted the second response, which came in late and was given to councillors at the meeting, was from Sharon Fazer, who stated the fees are a slap in the face to taxpayers who already paid for everything at the fire hall and Fazer further stated if the fire department can’t afford to operate they should close their doors.

White stated her recommendation was to approve the policy.

There was no discussion and councillors unanimously approved the fire department policy.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review