RDEK Directors Split on Stand-By Emergency Funds

Regional District of East Kootenay Board of Directors (Credit: RDEK)

The Regional District of East Kootenay Board will reconsider funding $8,520 in stand-by costs for its emergency team members during wildfire and flood seasons.

At their February meeting, both the Elk Valley and Central subregion directors voted against funding their $2,840 portion of the funds.

Emergency Management BC had previously funded the stand-by costs for the RDEK's emergency team members, which led to the RDEK Directors deciding on whether they should cover the costs of not.

"Last year the Province decided that they would not fund that and so staff brought a report back," Rob Gay told Summit 107, RDEK Board Chair. "There was a split, some of the directors were willing to pay for it but in the end, only one area, the Columbia Valley, decided they would pay for the folks on stand-by, which makes a bit of a dilemma for us because what happens if there's a call somewhere that hasn't paid?"

During high fire hazard or high flood risk, Emergency Management BC would allow RDEK emergency staff to go on stand-by after hours and be paid in case of an emergency that needed immediate action.

The majority of RDEK Directors agreed that the stand-by costs should be covered but most voted against the funding out of mere principle. Gay said the money wasn't as much of the issue as the principle of the RDEK approving the funds, believing Emergency Management BC is simply downloading the cost onto municipalities.

The total stand-by costs to the RDEK would be $8,520 split into $2,840 for each of the three subregions.

Believing the service is imperative to have and that many of the rural directors would still like to approve the funding, the RDEK will revisit the topic in March.

"I made a motion to bring it back for the rural areas because I think the majority of the rural directors - where most of the fires and floods happen - would like to see that, so we're going to bring it back," detailed Gay. "We haven't finalized our budget, our budget will be finalized next month to see if there's a willingness to help pay for this just through the rural areas."

Initial emergency response is critical in Gay's eyes and he would like to have the RDEK support the stand-by costs, even if it is a download from the B.C. Government.

Audio: Rob Gay, RDEK Board Chair


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