Kelowna city councillors balk at unexpected request for new fire engine

The Kelowna Fire Department is seeking emergency funding to replace a fire engine.

KELOWNA - A majority of Kelowna city council has said no to spending $730,000 for a new fire engine a year earlier than scheduled despite a warning from Kelowna Fire Department chief Jeff Carlisle it could result in “response capacity gaps” in rural areas of the city.

“We need to put our planning hats on and not make a quick decision on the fly,” argued Councillor Luke Stack, who lead the charge against the original omnibus motion this afternoon, March 30, which council eventually split into three parts after a confused debate.

The original motion had called for outright approval of a five-year capital plan which included the possiblity of a fifth fire hall for Kelowna by 2017. It would also have included an annual $100,000 boost to the fire equipment capital reserve, from $400,000 a year to $800,000 year by 2019.

Instead, council agreed to “receive” the recommendation rather than approve it.

Council was unanimous in its support for $130,000 to make up the short fall caused by the surging American dollar to complete the purchase of an engine ordered in January. The original price was $600,000.

Mayor Colin Basran, who also voted against the accelerated purchase, said he wasn’t comfortable making such large buys without seeing the completed strategic plan, due out this summer.

On the other side of the debate, Coun. Charlie Hodge said he wasn’t comforable with the prospect of increased public risk when the fire engine was going to be purchased next year anyway.

Without the extra new engine, the fire chief plans to use reserve trucks from the Glenmore and South-East Kelowna halls, which are rural areas with lower call volumes, to backfill the main fire halls when their trucks are already deployed.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infotelnews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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