West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation will be continuing to work together to provide fire protection for both communities.
West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater and Westbank First Nation (WFN) Chief Robert Louie signed a Fire Services Agreement Tuesday morning on behalf of their councils, extending fire protection by West Kelowna Fire Rescue (WKFR) to WFN for 15 years, with an optional five year extension.
“West Kelowna Fire Rescue has provided fire protection for Westbank First Nation for years, but this agreement refines our role as a partner in the service, and gives us opportunity to provide fire prevention expertise as our communities both continue to grow,” said WKFR fire chief Jason Brolund. “The long term nature of the agreement also solidifies our relationship which we will be proud to continue to foster well in the future.”
The agreement was in negotiations for some time to find a win/win scenario for both communities, and will be reviewed every five years to ensure both communities are still having their needs met. Under the agreement, Westbank First Nation appointed Brolund as it’s fire chief, with the authority to exercise powers under the WFN Fire Prevention Law. WKFR will deliver the full range of fire and rescue services to WFN residents as they do to West Kelowna residents, and facilitate joint training and exercises with WFN law enforcement officers.
“We see this as a positive and necessary step towards ensuring the continued protection of homes and businesses on our lands,” Louie said. “I commend our respective administration teams for coming together, working together and delivering an agreement we can all be proud of.”
In return for the services provided by WKFR, WFN will pay West Kelowna a fee, which will be calculated annually, based on B.C. Assessment Authority property values and the approved fire department annual budget.
“Effective fire protection in Westbank First Nation is vital to both of our communities,” Findlater said. “All parties wanted a long term agreement to ensure certainty and stability for fire protection for our closely linked communities. This stability means long-term planning is supported from a fire protection point of view for both organizations, and we are happy to extend our services to our closest neighbour with an agreement that is financially fair to both parties.”
The agreement also states that WKFR will be provided opportunity to review and give input into building plans proposed for a fire station on WFN land.