Regional district directors discussed the Telecommunications Infrastructure Workshop that took place on Saturday, February 9, during the Protective Services Committee meeting on February 21.
The discussion centred on Planetworks Consultants recent recommendation of options for consideration of planned emergency infrastructure upgrades. One approach , at roughly 1.5 million dollars, involved grouping the regional departments into three separate zones having common links to dispatch. The other approach, at approximately 2.1 million dollars, involved 18 separate channels for “one to one” fire department contact with Kelowna dispatch.
Penticton Director Dan Ashton cautioned the committee that Penticton would not support the “Cadillac” approach on a regional basis, reiterating his mantra that there was a need to think regionally.
Summerland Director Bruce Halquist told the committee that Summerland was not prepared to “take a step backwards.”
“We were in a zone 20 years ago,” he remarked, adding that smaller departments should be happy to be part of the zoned approach, as it was better than what they had.
“We need a more comprehensive policy as to where regional district (funding) stops and local fire departments start.
If individual departments want the one to one approach, they should pay for it.”
Oliver Director Ron Hovanes was aware that some felt that the recommendations had the impression of a “strong sell of a product” and that of a done deal, with some departments feeling the policy was being shoved down their throats. He noted that some departments did not want to be saddled with an extra radio, which would be the case with the lower cost zone approach.
Michael Brydon declared that he was becoming “Increasingly uncomfortable with this.”
“Chiefs don’t seem to have a handle on the telecom side, and the consultant can’t simplfy it,”
he said. Calling the dedicated versus zoned approach debate a “red herring” he noted that southern valley fire crews wanted to deal with only one channel on their radios.
“We need this simplified,” he told the committee, “no one knows what’s going on.”
Osoyoos Director Stu Wells agreed with Summerland Director Halquist that his municipality was “definitely going backwards” with the proposed changes.