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 a rural Alberta municipality shall appoint a sufficient number of Fire Guardians to enforce the Act regardless of quality and training;AND WHEREAS fires on Crown land may have an extensive duration and significant associated costs for equipment and services;AND WHEREAS Section 7(1) of 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 this requirement can result in significant cost implications for Alberta rural municipalities;AND WHEREAS Section 8(1) of the Forest & Prairie Protection Act allows the Minister to reimburse a rural municipality for any part of the costs and expenses in controlling or extinguishing a fire on unoccupied public land;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to expand the Forest and Prairie Protection Act to include all those municipalities who have joint jurisdiction with the Crown in the definition of “occupied public land”;AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request the Government of Alberta to amend the Forest and Prairie Protection Act to remove Section 9(2) in order that the whole province will have fire protection.
The Forest and Prairie Protection Act is an Act that applies to all land within Alberta except land within the boundaries of a village, town or city, and land owned by the Government of Canada. The Act assigns powers and duties and cost responsibilities for fire control between the Province and municipalities. As indicated above, municipalities have been assigned duties under the Act for which they do not have trained manpower, nor do they have the budgets to carry out these powers and duties.Resolution No. 5-01S from the Spring 2001 Convention dealt with the need to remove any responsibility from municipal districts for the services, costs and expenses associated with fire suppression on Crown land. The purpose of this resolution is to obtain cost relief and trained manpower availability for fire suppression on municipal land. This resolution recognizes that the forest is a valuable provincial resource. The next step in this process is for the provincial government to acknowledge their responsibility for this resource, and ensure that the entire province is totally covered for fire protection.
As noted above, Resolution 5-01S calls for the elimination of municipal responsibility for any costs of fire suppression on Crown land. The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect which deal with the boundaries of the area covered by the Forest and Prairie Protection Act, nor are there any resolutions in effect which address the costs of fire suppression on non-Crown lands.