The Town of Creston and local Regional District of Central Kootenay directors have been getting along like, well, fire and water in recent months, but one contentious issue was put to bed at the Dec. 13 RDCK board meeting in Nelson.
A new Arrow Creek water services agreement was signed, assuring five years of peace for the two sides. But a proposed contract for Creston to continue fire protection for Erickson properties was moved into a closed (in camera) meeting and later referred to lawyers.
The water services agreement came to a conclusion after former RDCK chair Gary Wright was brought in to help bring the parties together when negotiations fell apart earlier this year. The contract will see the Town of Creston pay a 60 per cent share of the operations and maintenance of the Arrow Creek water system, which includes the water treatment plant. It extends through 2017.
In the agreement, the RDCK agrees to install “district meters” to measure water flow in all lateral lines. In part, the meters will help determine the amount of water loss in the nearly 100-year-old sections of the system’s main line. They will also help determine more accurately the total water consumption by Erickson water users.
Data collected from the meters will be used to calculate the cost apportionment in 2016 and 2017.
Wright’s work on the service review will continue in 2013 as he collaborates with directors from the Town of Creston and RDCK areas A and B to resolve governance issues.
Area B director John Kettle said on Monday that the fire services agreement presented last week, in which Creston Fire Rescue would continue to provide fire protection for Erickson properties, wasn’t ready for signing.
“We only saw the town’s contract the day before the meeting and it isn’t the final version,” he said.
Because it is a legal issue, it was referred by the RDCK board to an in-camera discussion, which cannot be released to the public.
Kettle said he remains committed to going to referendum to ask other Area B residents, including Arrow Creek and Kitchener, which don’t have government fire protection, if they want to be included in the fire service area.
If they vote in favour, he said, the option will be to create a fire department that covers all of Area B, including Canyon-Lister, or to negotiate extended area coverage by Creston Fire Rescue.
The first option, he said, can only be pursued if enough new volunteer firefighters can be added from Area B. It takes three to five years to fully train a volunteer firefighter, Creston fire Chief Bruce Mabin told town council last week.