There are 45 homes south of Golden that may soon be receiving fire protection, if that’s what they decide.
The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) held an information session last week to discuss the fire catchment zone in Area A extending to include the additional properties.
A petition (with an unknown number of signatories) had been submitted to the CSRD, instigating a process to determine the viability of providing fire protection services to the area. Nicholson Fire Chief Parker Vaile determined that the properties, all within 13.5 kilometres of the fire hall, were serviceable except for one. If enough petitions are signed and submitted, the properties on Campbell and Mitchell Roads will have fire protection by the start of 2017.
“We’re not here to peddle services…We’re very proud of our fire services, but at the end of the day it’s up to you guys,” said Darcy Mooney, manager of operations with the CSRD.
As of right now, the Nicholson Fire Department protects a zone with 702 properties, and responds to, on average, 20 to 25 calls a year.
The department is in very good shape, and has taken steps to address its biggest hurdle – water supply.
A new 10,000 gallon water tank will be buried at the fire hall in the coming weeks, and they are looking at the possibility of putting another smaller tank at a location further south.
“That would make a huge difference with our ability to fight fires south,” said Vaile.
“But we plan to go ahead with more water storage (whether) this expansion goes through or not.”
For the expansion to go through, petitions must be signed by at least 50 per cent of the property owners. And the property held by the signatories must be valued at at least half of the total of all 45 properties. In other words, the owners of at least 23 properties must sign a petition, and the collective value of their homes must exceed $7.7 million (the total value of the 45 is $15.4 million).
“So even if we have more than half of the owners sign, if their properties don’t add up to $7.7 million, it won’t pass,” said Mooney.
If the expansion passes, the owners will be looking at a larger annual tax bill, which would be $1.03 for every $1,000 in assessment. The average property value is $248,000, which means the average increase would amount to $255 a year.
The homeowners could potentially see savings on their home insurance bills that would help offset the higher taxes, but Kenn Mount, fire services co-ordinator with the CSRD, says that potential insurance savings is just one of the benefits.
“It’s beyond just saving in insurance,” he said. “A crew could save valuable items, prevent the fire from spreading to other areas of the home…and that’s especially true with chimney fires which are very common in our area.”
Mount said that the department can also work on fire prevention, and assist with enforcing burning compliance if residents are burning illegally on their property.
However, both Mount and Mooney recommended that the residents shop around for the best insurance rates if they do expand the zone.
Residents have until August 17 to submit petitions, which have been mailed to all affected residents.