The town of Qualicum Beach approved the purchase of a new firetruck to replace the current primary rescue unit, which is almost 22 years-old. Council approved $908,355.10 for the fire engine, with a contingency of $920,000.
Coun. Robert Filmer questioned the timing of the purchase because the town is conducting a review of fire services with the city of Parksville, which could result in merging of the two departments.
“Is it fair to our tax payers and our residents that they just bought a new piece of equipment and now it is potentially either being looked at being housed in the city of Parksville or no longer having the name of Qualicum Beach?” he said.
If the departments merge, both will still be expected to meet requirements for frontline service, according to Daniel Sailland, Qualicum Beach chief administrative officer.
“The distances that we have between Parksville and Qualicum Beach are such that it’s very hard to collaborate on key pieces of equipment, of which this is one,” he said. “Any investment that we make at this time is not lost.”
Fire Chief Marc Norris said the current truck is serviceable, but unfit for frontline service.
Coun. Scott Harrison said it is important to maintain frontline equipment to avoid increases in residents’ home insurance. “Perhaps the timing could have been more ideal with spacing things out with some of the neighbouring fire services, but fire service is expensive. The machine is expensive — this has been approved, I believe, in previous budgets as well.”
The truck was budgeted for, according to Coun. Teunis Westbroek — the town planned to use a tax increase about 10 years ago to pay for this purchase
“We did that thinking ahead [so] we actually didn’t have to borrow and scrape or beg to get the money for new equipment. We have a volunteer fire department and we really appreciate that and we value that and we wanted them to have the best equipment, the best training and a good hall — and I think we are doing all three,” Westbroek said.
Council voted 3 – 1 in favour of the purchase, with only Filmer opposed.