MD of Willow Creek council decided last week to close the Moon River Estates Fire Department.
The decision came at council’s July 16 meeting, after a closed session discussion.
MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti was seeking direction from council.
Vizzutti said the municipality cannot deliver fire protection service for Class 4 insurance coverage as the Moon River fire department does not meet the requirements of the fire underwriters’ survey, and has not them for years.
Vizzutti pointed out having a roster of 15 members will not bring the department into compliance, and they have about half that now. There are also training, equipment and response requirements.
Vizzutti explained there is a misconception the MD of Willow Creek created the Moon River Fire Department.
The MD of Willow Creek inherited the department when the subdivision came under the municipality’s jurisdiction.
Vizzutti also took issue with several comments made at the last council meeting regarding the fire department.
Vizzutti said Moon River was invited to all training, and the trainer has devoted his weekends to make training work.
When it was said Moon River firefighters received no training on site, they in fact had received driving training at their own fire hall.
Vizzutti also took exception to the comment the Moon River members were mistreated by the Fort Macleod Fire Department when they did attend training.
“There is a camaraderie,” Vizzutti said, adding the Fort Macleod fire department never made Moon River feel less than welcome.
Vizzutti concluded by saying through no fault of their own, Moon River has a fire department that is not in compliance with the necessary requirements, and “with a heavy heart” recommended its closure.
“This is based on nothing personal,” Vizzutti said. “It’s not because they won’t, it’s because they can’t.”
The MD of Willow Creek would also be looking at a significant capital outlay to bring the department into compliance.
Coun. Henry Van Hierden said the municipality has made significant contributions to equipment in the Fort Macleod department so Moon River won’t be at a huge disadvantage.
Council then deferred making a decision until it had more time to discuss it in a close session.
When council reverted to open session, they passed a motion to close the Moon River Estates Fire Department.
A recorded vote was requested with Reeve Neil Wilson, and councillors Henry Van Hierden, John Kroetsch, Glen Alm, Earl Hemmaway and Ian Sundquist voting in favour of closure, and Coun. Maryanne Sandberg opposed.