WHEREAS many Alberta rural municipalities have large areas of Crown land within their boundaries;AND WHEREAS most Alberta rural municipalities rely on volunteer fire departments as their primary source of fire protection services;AND WHEREAS volunteer fire department members are mainly trained and equipped to deal with structure fires;AND WHEREAS fires on Crown land may have an extensive duration and significant associated costs for equipment and services;AND WHEREAS the Forest and Prairie Protection Act gives full responsibility to rural municipalities for the costs and expenses of all fires within their respective boundaries;AND WHEREAS municipalities and their landowners could face bankruptcy as a result of a major fire on Crown land and parks;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to amend the Forest and Prairie Protection Act to remove any responsibility from municipal districts and counties for the services, costs and expenses associated with fire suppression on Crown land.
The Forest and Prairie Protection Act gives some very specific responsibilities to municipal districts. In the past, the Alberta Forest Service has worked closely with rural municipalities and has not passed on the charges associated with fighting fires in the green zone. However, as their budgets become tighter and as local offices receive their directives from the province, there is room for changes to happen without municipalities receiving any forewarning that they may be facing extravagant invoices.Municipalities are neither equipped nor experienced in this type of fire suppression. Neither do we wish to become equipped and experienced. If we face the potential of covering the costs, municipalities should have some control over the type of services provided i.e. number of days a fire is monitored and the amount of equipment on standby, etc.
The AAMDC currently has no resolutions in effect on this issue.However, the association is currently participating on Alberta Environment’s Fire Advisory Committee, which among other issues has been discussing the responsibility of various parties for fire protection on Crown lands.