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Town Council -Fire Protection system getting updated

posted Nov 16, 2015, 8:29 AM by Kathy Carr
An advertisement stating that the Town of Carberry was borrowing up to $700,000 to extend the fire lines within the town brought residents to a hearing at the Carberry Town Council meeting, November 10. Mayor Stuart Olmstead welcomed the handful of people that included two former mayors and a former councillor to find out what it was all about.
Town foreman and fire department member, Grady Stephenson, explained the scope, and need for the project. He stated that Carberry has been growing and expanding, and fire protection has not been growing with it. A somewhat disturbing example of the shortcoming of the system, was that homes in the Walker subdivision had only eight minutes of water available on the current Fire trucks, should one have caught fire. “That’s not enough coverage for us to bring anyone out of a burning building,” he said.
“We want to cover all corners of the town,” Foreman Grady Stephenson explained, and that means the addition of ten new hydrants to the fire protection system, along with over 1850 metres of pipe to connect them all, and some ‘loops’ to circumvent when there are water interruptions. The project is currently two-thirds completed, and virtually all areas of the town will be within reach upon its completion.
Asst. CAO, Teresa McConnell corrected some of the confusion regarding the advertisement. The ad was composed by the province, to the standards they set to give notice of a debenture application. The $700,000 cost is a ‘rounding up’ of project costs. Town council expects the cost to be around $625,000, and they anticipate using about $75,000 of money on hand to offset that amount. The 4% interest rate is also dictated by the province, and the town has quotes of 2% to 3%, so that the cost per household should be less than stated in the notice.
Stephenson and Fire Chief Loney put together the plan so that every area would be covered and that there will be “lots of flow” in the system. They did not have it engineered, as they knew what they wanted.
They were asked if there were any grants available that would have reduced the cost, but administration scoured the resources and were unable to find a category that it fit. For example, the water (although it comes from the aquifer) isn’t considered potable as it is for fire, not drinking, so does not qualify. Wayne Blair questioned whether the money in the sewer reserve could be accessed, but Olmstead pointed out that those funds were earmarked for the infrastructure of the lagoon and the expansion of it in the future.
Councillor Barry Anderson spoke from his long experience as a council member, when the town struggled to pay off its first lagoon debenture – “it chokes you,” he said. He was thankful for the low interest rate available now, that they can lock in for five years.
Ed Drabyk questioned why they didn’t stage the project. Stephenson stated that essentially it has been staged. What they are doing at this phase is the bare minimum to give everyone coverage. There are loops to complete, and other work to be done in the future.
Another questioned whether the old town hall was more important than fire protection. Mayor Olmstead replied that it is council’s responsibility to keep their buildings up, and the meeting space was needed, will be well used, and grants were available to be utilized.
A question as to whether future developments should have the developer footing the cost of fire protection, sewer and such, had council members stating they would look into cost-sharing, but did not want to front-load all of the costs on developers. This brought Les Watt to attention. He warned that lots have reached their top price, and there would be very little more development if they went higher. 
Why are the lines being pushed? The short answer to that question, instead of excavating, is that it is cheaper, and there is less disturbance to the residents with the lines being pushed underground.
With the hearing adjourned, council were able to give first reading to by-law 7/2015. The by-law now is forwarded to the Municipal Board before the other two readings can be given.
by Gloria Mott