MD Council wishes to inform Lesser Slave River residents on what is happening with respect to the Lesser Slave Regional Fire Services Agreement and the Inter-municipal Agreement.
First, MD Council is honouring the spirit of the two agreements and has made interim payments to the Town of Slave Lake. The MD is awaiting justification on costs for certain items from the Town. Should there be an agreed upon amount payable under either agreement or both, MD Council will pay the amount outstanding.
Second, mention was made of a 2015 motion in an inter-municipal meeting where an MD Councillor made a motion to honour the current agreements. The 2015 amount payable was paid out under the unrevised agreements in 2016 but a motion was made July 14, 2016 and a letter was sent notifying the Town that the MD wanted to renegotiate the agreements so new agreements would be retroactive to January 1, 2016. There was no acknowledgement of this letter from the Town.
Third, it is important to note that MD Council’s desire to structure new agreements that better reflect current circumstances should not be construed as an unwillingness to pay for services. The agreements need to be brought up to date to reflect current operations. For example, the Fire Agreement was developed pre-2011, before any inflow of operational funding via recovery initiatives. New staff have been added for example. There are integrated operations with FireSmart. A new agreement needs to capture changes and post-wildfire operations.
Ultimately, it is the Municipal District’s desire for all Lesser Slave River ratepayers to have adequate access to certain defined services and facilities of the Town of Slave Lake, at a cost sharing structure that is fair. Throughout discussions to date, the MD has asked for full disclosure of fire service and related revenues and costs. Unfortunately, this has not yet occurred.
The MD believes that common ground can be achieved on the agreements. MD Council has offered to speak with the Town Council regarding this matter prior to the municipal election, but was advised that the Town preferred a time in November. The MD Council has agreed to meet in November. Another alternative that MD Council sees for reaching consensus may be to pursue a facilitated negotiation.
The MD has made the letters of record to date on this matter publicly available below. Residents are invited to review this brief chronology of events to date and thus form their own conclusions.
- Click here to view the MD's September 15, 2017 letter to the Town of Slave Lake in PDF format.