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Expanded emergency services proposed for rural area surrounding Kaslo

A $100,000 plan would add more first responders and a vehicle
The rural area around Kaslo does not have its own emergency medical service. File photo

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice

People living in more remote communities in Area D, the rural area surrounding Kaslo, will have a chance in the near future to weigh in on paying taxes for improved emergency medical service.

The RDCK board of directors approved the establishment of a Medical First Responder Service Area for the parts of Area D outside the Kaslo and District Fire Protection Area. If approved by voters, the service would be staffed by the Kaslo Volunteer Fire Department.

“The current service arrangement is inadequate as there is currently no response available in the more rural portions of Area D on the east side of Kootenay Lake and in the more northern areas near Trout Lake,” notes a staff report. “An increase to current staffing levels and resources would ensure a more robust response in remote portions of the service area.”

The Kaslo and District Volunteer Fire Department responds to calls in the area not covered by existing service agreements, but it has created inequity, a staff report noted.

“The net effect of the current service arrangement is that residents of the Kaslo and Defined Portions of D Fire Protection Area are, to a degree, subsidizing the provision of Medical First Responder services in those portions of D outside of the fire response area,” the report states.

The proposed service requires purchasing a $60,000 response vehicle for Ainsworth/ Woodbury area. That expenditure would be funded through short-term borrowing and financed over a five-year period. Another roughly $40,000 per year will go to supporting eight new first responders – four in Meadow Creek and four in Ainsworth/Woodbury.

In total, a taxpayer with a $450,000 home in the new service area will pay about $83 more annually for the expanded service, if it’s approved.

The proposed new service area will go to alternative approval process (AAP) for elector approval later this year. In an AAP, the proposal is advertised, and anyone opposed can register their no vote. If 10 per cent of the electorate votes no, the proposal fails.