The fire chief in the District of Peachland is cautiously optimistic they will get the go-ahead of voters to borrow money for a new protective services building.
People casting ballots in the civic election also have the option to vote on the referendum question that reads: "Are you in favour of the Corporation of the District of Peachland adopting the Protective Services Building Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2364, 2022, to authorize the borrowing of up to Seventeen Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($17,500,000), over a thirty (30) year term, to fund the construction of a new Protective Services Building to accommodate the Fire Department?"
Chief Dennis Craig wants to make sure voters have all the information they need before going to the polls.
“What we want is people to vote informed. We have had some feedback from the public even post advance voting, where they didn’t have correct information regarding the referendum question.
“We really want to make sure that when people go in on Saturday to vote that they’re voting with the right information and all the information.”
Craig admits it's not an easy ask in these times of skyrocketing inflation.
“It is an impact. By 2026, if this goes ahead, it will be a $125 increase in parcel taxes for each parcel in Peachland. So, roughly just over $10 a month, or you know, a double scoop ice cream cone once per month. For some people that is a lot.”
However, he points out that staying in the old fire hall is not a viable alternative.
“It’s been a question, you know, what happens if the referendum isn’t successful? And it’s inevitable that we are going to require a new fire hall down the road.
“The current facility doesn’t meet current health and safety standards, it doesn’t meet current building code. To invest any money into this building is really an exercise in futility. It’s just not renovatable,” adds Craig.
He recently gave a video tour of the existing building to show voters just how bad it is.
One of the biggest concerns is the lack of shower facilities for firefighters to decontaminate when they return from a call.
“From a health and safety perspective, our members come back from a structure fire with all the contaminants on their bodies. And unfortunately, they have to take those contaminants back to their loved ones because we have no facilities here for them to shower and get cleaned up,” he also points out there’s no space to add showers and the only option would be a trailer in the back behind the fire hall.
The chief says if the referendum fails they will be left scrambling to find ways to ensure the health and safety of fire department volunteers.