The fate of Chase road rescue came into question Tuesday afternoon when council sat down for the first meeting in the 2013 budget process.
Coun. Rick Berrigan expressed his increasing concerns with the road rescue program after seeing a rise in expenses for yet another year.
Berrigan requested that the fire department submit a more thorough breakdown of road rescue revenue and expenditures, and that it be separated from that of the fire hall.
Berrigan, who was one of those who originally founded the road rescue program, focused on the many changes that have occurred since road rescue services were removed from the non-profit society and became part of village services.
“Ever since the fire department has taken it over there is pretty lavish equipment being purchased and there is pretty lavish training,” says Berrigan.
He stated during the meeting that the road rescue program, when it was a society, was able to sustain a healthy bank account due to grants for non-profit societies and revenue from the provincial emergency program.
Now the rescue unit is a part of the municipality, the revenues are extremely low compared to what they were before.
“Now, I don’t ever want to see road rescue quit here because it is a valuable thing,” says Berrigan, “but the increase in expenses of having road rescue compared to what it used to be as a society; we need to have another look at that.”
Mayor Ron Anderson asked if they had been misled when the initial costs of running the road rescue program were presented to the former council, and questioned why their revenue was so high as a society compared to now.
When they operated as a society, the rescue unit had very high call-out numbers and collected revenue from the provincial emergency program for the service. This has changed now that the operations are run by the village.
Chase Fire Chief Brent Chamberlain says that during the time road rescue was a non-profit society, they were going out to every call that came in — now they only attend calls where people are trapped.
Anderson says that if the numbers show that there is a need for what is being requested, there is a possibility he could request funding from the TNRD.
It was also suggested during the meeting that some of the surrounding areas that benefit from the Chase road rescue program be asked to provide a small amount of funding for the service.
Chase road rescue currently provides service to the second-largest coverage area in B.C. at 3,000 square miles.
Council intends to meet again Monday to continue budget discussions.