By Trevor Busch
Several dominoes have already fallen in the path of the town’s campaign to relocate its fire hall, and now one of the key resolutions mandating the town move forward with the project is being targeted for re-evaluation.
In Resolution 252/2018 from May 14 which was passed by a 5-1 margin, town council directed administration to “ensure a 10 minute response time for all fire and ambulance first responders to residential locations within the town of Taber by relocating the Emergency Management Centre Building (fire hall) to an appropriate location.”
The wording of the resolution had troubled Coun. Garth Bekkering from the start, and he had been the sole dissenting voice when it was put to a vote in May.
“I’ve read, and re-read, and re-read this thing a 1,000 times, and I’m really concerned that it is really difficult for the Town of Taber — the emergency responders — to ensure a 10-minute response time for all fire and ambulance first responders to all residential locations in the Town of Taber,” said Bekkering at town council’s Oct. 22 regular meeting. “Just thinking out loud, if I could: I think the town opens themselves to considerable liability if we’re not able to achieve a 10-minute response time, because we know in this world things are going to happen where they can’t respond in 10 minutes. It really concerns me.”
CAO Cory Armfelt suggested the resolution could easily be rescinded, and a more effective motion made in its place.
“Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to re-word this motion to have a different flavour at all,” said Bekkering. “I think we should change some of the wording — I’m not planning to rescind, I’m not interested in that. It’s a friendly amendment situation, saying ‘not to ensure’ — because we can’t — what we’re trying to achieve according to the HIRF (High Intensity Residential Fire) rules. I’m wondering if we can do that, to somehow ease that (wording), because we cannot ensure that. We cannot do it.”
Coun. Louie Tams felt that council had little option but to rescind the original motion and replace it with more precise language.
“With that, I believe we need to rescind 252/2018, because we can’t change that motion. We can’t have two motions saying the same thing. So we’re going to have to rescind 252/2018 and then come up with a different motion. You can’t add a friendly amendment because it’s already been voted on. Councillor Bekkering’s concern is the word ‘ensure.’ The rest of the motion could stay exactly as it is.”
Armfelt pointed out that council’s current resolution as it reads now actually goes beyond what is required by provincial HIRF guidelines.
“The actual HIRF is a 10-minute response 90 per cent of the time. The motion should say a 10-minute response time 90 per cent of the time to be in line with provincial regulations on the matter.”
Bekkering felt this added more fuel to his fire.
“Exactly my point, Mr. Armfelt. I think it should be included in the motion. If I may, I don’t want to be rescinding anything, or making a new motion — perhaps at another meeting we could discuss it, or make a decision. But it really bugs me.”
Coun. Jack Brewin, who had put forward the original resolution on May 14, wanted more time to consider the issue.
“I’m not prepared to rescind that motion at this time. I’d like to have some further thought on this. Perhaps we could table this until the next meeting. It’s not something I’d really like to entertain tonight until I see a little more information and proper wording.”
No formal resolution was passed, but further discussion of the concern was deferred to a future meeting for possible changes.
Administration has stated in the past that “any decision on relocating the fire hall will not be made until a full analysis of costs and impacts on taxpayers is fully understood and shared with the public.”