By Justin Seward
At their March 24 council meeting, Cypress County councilors passed the new fire services agreement with the City of Medicine Hat that will take effect April 1.
The current agreement was set to expire on March 31 and was one of the identified items in passing the ICF (Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework).
The ICF is intended to provide integrated strategic planning, delivery and funding for intermunicipal services, the allocation of scarce resources efficiently in the providing of local services and ensuring municipalities contribute funding for services that benefit their residents.
“We basically reviewed possible options and both jurisdictions decided that they were pretty comfortable and satisfied with the expiring agreement and the terms and the conditions that were in that agreement, ”said Jeffrey Dowling, the county’s director of municipal services.
The agreement will include the continuation of the eight-kilometre dual response area, which states in the Memorandum of Understanding as being the firefighter services area.
“Basically the city will continue to provide service as calls come in for the specific area that extends out west into the county,” he said.
“ (So)sort of west and south of Desert Blume, south of Dunmore and out east of Veinerville.”
Other continuing services will see county firefighters respond to calls within city limits if requested to do so.
Both municipalities agreed on compensation and will see the county pay fees to the city each year for the fire service area.
From April 1 to Dec. 31, 2020- $215, 237, while from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 for next threeyears, in 2021-$293, 341.37, 2022-$299,153.98 and 2023-$305, 142.13.
Additionally, Cypress County will have to pay for the fire service area (eight kilometre response area) or the deployment over and above what is outlined in Section 2.7 which says “deployment to a County incident will be one fire engine and four fire fighters, however deployment may be adjusted at the discretion of the city’s senior fire officer on duty at the time the request for a response is made.”
The city will pay the county-supplied engine at a $615.00 per hour.
The terms of the agreement is from April 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2023.
“That was important because any new agreement would come due within the council terms of the existing council,” said Dowling.
Dowling said since last November “the discussions between the fire chiefs and administration have been very positive.
“Both municipalities worked very cooperatively and we came up with an agreement that meets the financial and service requirements for both municipalities. I think in that regard, we met the intended spirit of what the ICF was intending and what the province was trying to get out of it, which was promoting communication and cooperation amongst neighbouring municipalities.”
The agreement will still take effect on the initial stat date despite The City of Medicine Hat council giving direction on the agreement at thier April 6 meeting.