Wheat­land re­scinds Fire Ser­vices By­law

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Patrick Ko­lafa

Wheat­land County is go­ing back to the draw­ing board with its Fire Ser­vices by­law and will be work­ing more with the fire de­part­ments and com­mu­ni­ties in the county to draft a fit­ting by­law.

Wheat­land County Coun­cil of­fi­cially re­scinded the draft of its Fire Ser­vices By­law at its De­cem­ber 4 meet­ing. Wheat­land CAO Alan Parkin tells the Mail the draft of the by­law had only re­ceived its first read­ing.

“Coun­cil re­scinded it be­cause there are a num­ber of rec­om­men­da­tions to be changed,” he said. “In the new year, we will bring it back in a new form and move it for­ward. Coun­cil is still ea­ger to get it changed so it will meet all the new re­quire­ments.”

“There have been a num­ber of mod­i­fi­ca­tions, so rather than con­tinue on with the mod­i­fi­ca­tions, we felt it was best to re­scind the first read­ing mo­tion and go from there.”

The new Fire Ser­vices By­law has been con­tro­ver­sial from the get-go. The goal of the new by­law was to amal­ga­mate three older by­laws, bring­ing the de­part­ments into com­pli­ance with OHS reg­u­la­tions, limit li­a­bil­ity and ap­ply fire ser­vices in a con­sis­tent man­ner, with min­i­mum lev­els of ser­vice.

The first read­ing was met with op­po­si­tion from area fire de­part­ments, many felt they should have been more in-

volved with the draft­ing of the by­law. At a meet­ing in Au­gust of this year, the coun­cil agreed to sit down with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from af­fected fire de­part­ments and com­mu­ni­ties be­fore they pro­ceed. They also asked the Al­berta Fire Com­mis­sion­ers Of­fice for in­put.

Parkin said these have been fruit­ful meet­ings. “There has been some re­ally good in­put, the fire com­mis­sioner did a re­view as well and rec­om­mended sim­pli­fy­ing the by­law. With sim­pli­fy­ing the by­law, there will be a few changes to the struc­ture of the by­law, so we felt it would be more pru­dent to re­scind the first read­ing. With by­laws, if it is just a tex­tual amend­ment, you can do that, but once there are sub­stan­tial struc­tural changes to it, it is not a good idea to con­tinue with it.”

“We are go­ing to take the bones of the by­law, the in­put we have re­ceived and bring back a new by­law in the new year with all of those rec­om­men­da­tions. It will be a lot more fruit­ful.”

He says con­sul­ta­tions with the de­part­ment will con­tinue in the new year be­fore it comes back to coun­cil. They hope to have the by­law passed early in 2019.

In the mean­time, the cur­rent by­law is in place.

“There is noth­ing re­ally criti- cal ex­cept we wanted to get the by­law up­dated so we meet cur­rent re­quire­ments be­cause there have been a num­ber of leg­isla­tive changes in the last lit­tle while,” he said. “We are get­ting to be more liti­gious in Canada, so we are just pro­tect­ing ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests. The main in­ter­ests we are look­ing at are the vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers and the cit­i­zens of Wheat­land County to make sure they are pro­tected in ev­ery fash­ion.”

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