Gas tax sought to help out fire departments

Gas tax sought to help out fire departments

(File photo)

Lyonel Doherty
Oliver Chronicle

The regional district is lobbying the provincial government to utilize gas tax funding for volunteer or paid on-call fire departments.

This is one of four resolutions being sent to the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA).

Oliver Town council recently reviewed the resolutions, which also include: ensuring that enough building officials are qualified to meet the requirements of incoming legislation; broaden the mandate of Emergency Management BC to include mitigation in response to increased flooding; and implement a rural libraries fund due to the current funding formula not working effectively.

The regional district wants fire departments to receive gas tax funding for the purchase of equipment. It notes that rural communities are struggling to meet increasing costs of expanding firefighting regulations and requirements.

As for building officials, new mandatory certification requirements come into effect in March of 2021. According to the regional district, certification exams have an average 41 per cent failure rate due to their complexity. Level 3 certification takes a minimum of four years to obtain.

It is reported there is a shortage of qualified building officials in the province, so the district wants enough officials certified to meet the demand.

The third resolution sees the regional district lobbying the province to add “mitigation” to its Emergency Management BC mandate.

The regional district says the effects of climate change and lack of oversight of waterways on Crown land has resulted in widespread flooding, landslides, debris flows and blocked culverts.

While the Emergency Program Act is used to prepare and respond to emergencies, it does not identify who is responsible to build infrastructure and mitigate emergencies.

The regional district says the only ability to address this right now is to establish a local service. But this would take public assent and local tax funding.

“The assent would be unlikely as even with upfront capital grants for infrastructure development, ongoing operating costs would be far too great for our limited tax base,” the board says.

The final resolution sees the district lobbying the Union of BC Municipalities to call on the province to implement a rural libraries fund. It says the current formula in rural areas with low population results in insufficient funding and hardship for residents who are more dependent on library services.