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MD looking for service fee for emergency services on Crown land

“Most calls are for visitors recreating in the wilderness and injuring themselves. Access into the areas is primarily on secondary gravel roads and trails which results in increased apparatus costs, increased repair costs, firefighters being exposed to dangerous response conditions.”
20200806 MD of Bighorn Office 0021
MD of Bighorn office. RMO file photo

MD OF BIGHORN – The Municipal District of Bighorn wants to get compensation from the provincial government when things go wrong in the wilderness.

Crown land within the northern section of the Calgary Forest Area (CFA) falls within the MD and is a popular place for camping, off-highway vehicle trails, shooting, fishing, hunting, and other recreational activities.

With that activity comes emergency incidents involving motor vehicle collisions, recreational accidents, and medical and traumatic injuries. Since 2017, MD of Bighorn volunteer fire departments have responded to 159 incidents on Crown land. Currently, there is no compensation from the provincial government for medical distress calls, search and rescue, or OHV accidents.

“Most calls are for visitors recreating in the wilderness and injuring themselves,” said Shaina Tutt, director of finance for the MD of Bighorn. “Access into the areas is primarily on secondary gravel roads and trails, which results in increased apparatus costs, increased repair costs, firefighters being exposed to dangerous response conditions.”

As well, emergency dispatches to the area result in extensive response times that leave large areas of the MD without suitable emergency response protection.

To deal with this, MD of Bighorn council approved a Rural Municipality of Alberta (RMA) resolution to request that the Alberta government develop a fee for service and compensation schedule for service dispatches on Crown land.

“The MD of Bighorn, since I have been on council has not done a resolution for RMA before,” said Reeve Lisa Rosvold. “We do need to have council support before the resolution deadline, which is tomorrow.”

Coun. Alice James, along with the rest of council, supported the resolution.

“I am in support of this because I believe it is a need that needs to be fulfilled," she said.

The issue has also been something that council has talked about for some time.

“I know it is something we have been talking about and looking at for a number of years, and see if RMA is able to help support us and other municipalities in our area," Rosvold said.