The Cortes Island Fire Department wants to expand its service to include first response for medical emergencies. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Strathcona Regional District formalizes enhanced services with Cortes Fire Department

Tax for first responder service still has to go before voters at binding referendum

The Strathcona Regional District has agreed to an enhanced service agreement with the Cortes Island Fire Department.

The SRD board passed all readings of Bylaw 346 to authorize entering into an agreement for the fire department to provide enhanced fire protection services on Cortes Island at the Feb. 28 board meeting.

The board’s Electoral Areas Services Committee had reviewed the matter at a meeting previous to the board meeting.

At the Feb. 28 SRD meeting, Area B Director Noba Anderson clarified the item was not related to a binding referendum question for Cortes residents on a tax to support first responder services in the community but was simply to recognize what services the department is already providing.

RELATED STORY: Gulf Island fire fighters want first responder training

“This is an amendment to the contract,” she said. “It relates to changes that were made and approved though an alternative approval process (AAP) on Cortes.”

These amendments, she described, an an “administrative catch-up” to allow the fire department “to do what it has already been doing.”

“The other item of the first responder program is still in the queue,” Anderson added.

The bylaw that passed authorizes the SRD to enter into a revised contract with the Cortes Island Fire Fighters Association (CIFFA) for enhanced fire protection. Last year, the board established a contract with the CIFFA on the understanding that, if the scope of service was expanded by another bylaw, Bylaw 331, which referred to road rescue, ambulance assistance and protection of wharves, the SRD would prepare a revised agreement to reflect the full scope of the service.

The SRD board authorized seeking the approval of electors through an AAP at a meeting last July. The AAP ran until Nov. 13, with the regional district receiving no electors’ forms to register opposition. The board adopted Bylaw 331 at the Nov. 22, 2018 meeting.

RELATED STORY: Cortes referenda won’t proceed as quickly as some hope

The question of when the SRD board will bring back the binding referendum issue was still undetermined. The item is on the agenda for the latest board meeting, which took place after this story went to press.

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