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MD approves two-year contract renewal with Canmore for fire, rescue services

“The number of calls are not factored into the contract sum at all. That is strictly determined by the market assessed values within the service lands of the MD compared to the town site of Canmore and it is a proportional percentage that is taken.”
20210302 FireSmart 0918
Smoke billows from numerous small prescribed fires were set by Alpine Precision Tree Services Ltd. during a FireSmart procedure for Silvertip Resort near Benchlands Trail in 2021. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

MD OF BIGHORN – The Town of Canmore and MD of Bighorn extended their fire service agreement another two years, but with an increase in costs.

The MD received a draft agreement that showed significant increases from the 2017 agreement, including a 51 per cent increase in corporate administrative support, a 61 per cent increase in insurance and a 75 per cent increase in reserve contributions. The total cumulative effect was a 57 per cent increase in Town of Canmore expenses. Fees for fire rescue services are based on a proportionate share of the fire rescue costs of the Town of Canmore.

The value of the 2017 agreement was $79,140, with the new agreement using the existing formula for cost determination. The proposed budget is a 93 per cent increase from 2017 to $152,615. It will be adjusted based on the actual costs.

“The number of calls are not factored into the contract sum at all,” said Andrew Box, MD of Bighorn fire chief. “That is strictly determined by the market assessed values within the service lands of the MD compared to the townsite of Canmore and it is a proportional percentage that is taken.”

From 2019 to 2021, there were 170 responses, of which 25.6 per cent were motor vehicle collisions on the Trans-Canada Highway  Since Canmore Fire Rescue can bill through the provincial cost recovery mechanisms for the collisions, those events were removed from the incident analysis.

“They have the ability to generate revenue on those calls,” Coun. Jenn Smith said.

The removal of collisions results in an average of 47 calls per year performed by Canmore Fire Rescue, 41 per cent of which are alarms, 26 per cent were medical and 21 per cent were fire calls.

Typically, crews were on scene for less than an hour in 70 per cent of the calls.

As a result, MD residents will pay $3,000 for every response by the Canmore Fire Department.

“How are we assured in the MD that the Town of Canmore fire services are familiar with the MD of Bighorn?” Reeve Lisa Rosvold said. “I know there was a fire in Dead Man’s Flats a few years back where Exshaw fire responded quicker than Canmore because they went to the wrong address.”

Box stated that quality of the dispatch information is to blame on many occasions.

“We have mobile response information systems that provide the address to us,” Box said. “There are a number of factors that I have been made aware of hearsay of the times Exshaw fire has beat Canmore into these service lands.”

The fire agreement has allowed Canmore Fire Services to provide fire response fire suppression and rescue services to MD residents in Harvie Heights and Dead Man’s Flats.

The most recent agreement expired on June 30, 2022, but was extended for six months to allow for more negotiations. With a deadline of Dec. 31, 2022, council chose to renew the contract for another two years.


CORRECTION: The Dec. 29, 2022 edition of the Outlook story “MD approves two-year contract renewal with Canmore for, rescue services” cited information that was in error in the MD of Bighorn agenda. This online story has since been corrected.