Hybrid hardship for Tiny’s new STR vehicle

Economy and the environment were the driving motivators to look at a better alternative for short-term rental inspections in Tiny Township.

During a recent meeting of council, an emergency services department staff report was presented for the tender of a fire inspection vehicle for short-term rentals across the municipality. The immediate option of a fire department SUV was priced at $35,000 with an estimated delivery date of this December or January.

However, the $37,000 SUV hybrid, which staff proposed as an alternate choice isn't availabile until the spring of 2024, over a year beyond its immediate necessity for the job.

Director of emergency services/fire chief Dave Flewelling provided council with the reasons why the traditionally-fueled vehicle was more accessible for tender.

“While we’re aware that we only received one bid to our tender request,” explained Flewelling, “we believe this to be indicative of the current vehicle market that we are experiencing and also due to the time of year when model years of vehicles are changing.

“One thing we have learned from this process from other vehicle requests recently is that this process will need to be entered into much earlier than it had been in the past. As we can see from the delivery date portion of this tender, with respect to hybrids especially, is that we’ll need to act at least two years in advance for newer replacements,” he added.

Deputy Mayor Steffen Walma approached staff with an option outside the recommendations: Leasing the quoted SUV for the time being while purchasing the hybrid immediately.

Finance/treasurer director Haley Leblond replied that such actions weren’t the traditional method of leasing municipal vehicles, and staff would need to look into the matter and report back at a future meeting.

Other members of council were in support of the hybrid exploration. A line of questions from Coun. John Bryant revealed that vehicles are given a 10-year lifespan financially, which furthered his support. Coun. Cindy Hastings proposed looking into repurposing any existing vehicles in the fleet for fire inspection use until the hybrid could be obtained.

“I think in the long run that’s the way we need to go, and we’ve had staff reports from (public works director Tim Leitch) that there is a significant savings there,” said Hastings. “I don’t want to hold anything up but I think it’s worth investigating a little bit further to try and get more hybrids in our fleet.”

Mayor George Cornell also supported Walma’s suggestion.

“As we’ve seen with the price of fuel,” said Cornell, “anything we can do within the fleet from an environmental perspective as well as economic perspective, moving to non-fossil fuel vehicles is moving in the right direction.”

Council supported staff to purchase the hybrid option while directing them to report back with alternatives, including the leasing option, for the next regular meeting.

The staff report for award of tender for the short-term rental fire inspection vehicle can be viewed within the agenda page located on the Tiny Township website.

Archives of council meetings are available to view on Tiny Township’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca