To improve emergency response services and better protect the community, properties and infrastructure, the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Board is proposing to construct a fire hall building on Mount Washington. The CVRD Board has given direction to move forward with the borrowing and approval process for the project and secured a grant for $900,000 to help reduce the costs for residents and property owners.
The CVRD is committed to constructing and equipping an operating fire hall at Mount Washington, on property donated for this purpose. The proposed fire hall location can be viewed here.
An operating fire hall at Mount Washington will:
- Improve fire department response time, helping to save lives and property and contributing to the overall wellbeing and safety of the community;
- Provide permanent heated storage for the Mount Washington fire apparatus, tools and equipment which is required to be eligible for reduced residential fire insurance rates;
- Provide a training location for volunteer firefighters;
- Become the central location for promoting and encouraging volunteers.
The establishment of a fire hall may eventually lead to reduced fire insurance premium rates. In order to be eligible for reduced premiums, the Fire Underwriters Survey requires:
- A responding fire hall within eight road kilometres;
- A certified fire engine less than 25 years of age;
- A minimum of 15 volunteer firefighters (currently there are eight volunteers).
The establishment of a fire hall is key to eventually being eligible for reduced residential fire insurance premiums.
(Notice Advertising and 30 day response period)
|March 10 to April 11, 2022|
|Procurement Process |
(Contractor selection pending successful AAP)
|Construction (weather dependant)||May/June 2023|
The project architect and engineering team has developed a design and cost estimates for the construction of a fire hall along with the purchase of equipment and project management costs. The total cost for the Mount Washington fire hall project is estimated to be $2.5 million dollars. With Federal grant funding of $900,000 and transfer from reserve of $190,000, the total amount the CVRD would be required to borrow is estimated to be $1.4 million dollars.
If the fire hall project proceeds, the annual tax requisition required to maintain service delivery, including debt servicing, is anticipated to be $250,000. As an example; for a residential property assessed at $500,000 the tax increase for residents within this service area is anticipated to be approximately $123.40.
Elector Approval Process
The borrowing of funds to finance the project requires elector approval. This means the residents and property owners of the service area must give permission for the CVRD obtain a loan for constructing and equipping the new Mount Washington Fire Hall.
Bylaw No. 686 being “Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 686, 2021” would authorize the CVRD to borrow an amount not to exceed one million four hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars ($1,425,000) to finance the costs of constructing and equipping a fire hall for the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service. The loan would be paid back over a maximum of 30 years by the taxable properties within the Service Area. For a property assessed at $500,000, the increase in the annual property tax attributable to the borrowing is estimated at $123.
The CVRD Board is seeking participating area approval of the electors by way of alternative approval process (AAP) for the entire Service Area. An alternative approval process is a form of approval that allows electors to indicate whether they are against a local government proposal moving forward. Provincial legislation enables local governments to use the AAP to engage citizens about proposed bylaws or other matters requiring electoral approval. Formerly known as a counter-petition, the AAP requires that 10% or more of eligible voters sign and submit a form of opposition to the proposed initiative in order to prevent the local government from proceeding with the proposed initiative. The AAP provides electors with at least 30 days following the publication of notices to sign and submit an elector response form to indicate their opposition. For those electors that are in favour of the initiative, no action is required.
With respect to the Mount Washington Resort Community Fire Protection Service, the number of eligible electors has been fairly determined to be 542 and the number of elector responses required to prevent the CVRD Board from proceeding without the further assent of the electors is 54. The deadline for receiving elector responses for this Alternative Approval Process is Monday, April 11, 2022 at 4:30 pm. The AAP provides that the Board may proceed with adoption of the Bylaw unless, by the deadline, at least 10% (being 54) of the electors indicate opposition which would then require that the CVRD Board obtain approval by assent vote (referendum).
Public inspection of the bylaw can be made at the CVRD office (770 Harmston Aveue, Courtenay) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Monday-Friday, except holidays) and on the CVRD website.
Residents who live within the service area will be receiving addressed letters providing fulsome details of the project, electoral approval process and deadlines.
- If you have any questions about the project do not hesitate to contact James Bast, Manager of Fire Services at: 250-334-6044 or email.
- If you have any questions about the AAP process, please contact Jake Martens, General Manager of Corporate Services at 250-334-6029 or email.