July 2, 2015
PINANTAN LAKE – Residents in Pinantan Lake have decided against building a fire hall, even after the town’s only store burnt down April 2014.
“There appeared initially from our meetings to be a lot of support for it,” Mel Rothenburger, the Thompson Nicola Regional District director for the region, says.
The community held an informational meeting before a petition was circulated; the regional district held two.
Petitions were distributed to just over 430 properties in the Pinantan-East Paul Lake fire zone to ask for support to build a fire hall, buy equipment and procure a loan authorization of up to $470,000. Those in favour of the proposal were asked to send the petition back to the regional district.
“(The petitions) were quite slow in being returned. So over the weeks it wasn’t a surprise,” Rothenburger says of the lack of support for the proposal.
The submission deadline for petitions ended June 30 and with only 142 petitions returned the 218 vote threshold required to actually let the proposal proceed as not met.
The favourable votes also needed to represent roughly $45.6 million worth of property values in the fire zone.
Cory George thinks financial concerns were the reason the proposal was unsuccessful. Not only is George the sitting chair of the Pinantan-East Paul fire association, he is also the owner of the Pinantan general store that burned down.
George says it’s a challenge ‘when you’re asking people to open their already stretched pocket books.’
Rothenburger echoes this noting concern about taxes was ‘certainly evident.’
A tax would have been put on the properties within the fire zone to cover both the capital cost and the operating cost. The actual hall and equipment would have been paid off after 20 years, but the cost to operate the fire station would be an on-going tax. The average property owner would expect to see an annual increase of $216.
Regardless of the reasons why not to support fire-protection services, George says ‘I’m disappointed in it. I was definitely of the opinion that that community would support it.’
Residents in nearby Paul Lake agreed to a similar fire-protection proposal last year. Residents agreed to borrow $260,000 to build a fire hall and incur the applicable taxes.