Pemberton to investigate combined emergency response building 

MacKenzie says initiative could create tri-government funding opportunity

An aging RCMP office in a converted residential building, a 4x4 ambulance without a permanent indoor bay and an over-extended fire station may soon become things of the past.

The Village of Pemberton mayor and council have identified the need for a facility that houses police, fire and ambulance services at a strategy session earlier this month. The concept was part of the Valley Vision Leadership in Action platform during the fall election.

Councilor David MacKenzie, who ran on the VVLA ticket, has experienced the strain of the community’s emergency resources firsthand as a volunteer firefighter.

"As the community gets bigger, we’re going to need another fire station or maybe a larger facility," said MacKenzie.

The Pemberton Fire Department currently serves the VOP, the Pemberton Fire District and the SLRD, which includes communities as far away as Owl Ridge.

"I think combining all the emergency services is something we need to investigate. The RCMP has outlived its building and the ambulance service is in the same boat," said MacKenzie. "The plan has its advantages. By grouping emergency services there’s a potential costs savings."

The first-term councilor points to the RMOW building with its adjacent RCMP and police facilities as an effective example of combining amenities.

"This could be a way to partner with other governments as funding sources," said MacKenzie, adding that RCMP fall under federal jurisdiction, while ambulance services are supported provincially.

"Whatever we do, we have to be responsible to the taxpayers."

Cpl. Paul Vadik is supportive of the plan to combine emergency resources in Pemberton.

"It would allow for effective joint response, before, during and after an incident," said Cpl. Vadik. "It would give us a better way to debrief and discuss each others’ roles."

While MacKenzie would only say possible sites for a facility would have to take into consideration response times, Cpl. Vadik said he’s heard of two possible sites, both at the entrance into town.

"Either would give high visibility, good access to the highway and lots of room," said Cpl. Vadik.

While the RCMP officer sees all three organizations operating under their own administration, he does believe that the creation of a single facility would represent a savings to the VOP. As well, it would allow for a more thorough integration of the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police.

"We’re already integrated," said Cpl. Vadik. "But it would be great to share space."

At this stage in the planning, the VOP council must define where development of such a building would come on its list of priorities. MacKenzie said that a study would be undertaken in the near future.

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