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LETTER: Parks Canada committed to emergency responses

Editor: In regards to the Outlook’s Dec. 1 article “Parks Canada ending road rescue contract with Banff Fire Department.” The Town of Banff Fire Department plays a key role in providing road rescue services in Kootenay National Park, including within

Editor:

In regards to the Outlook’s Dec. 1 article “Parks Canada ending road rescue contract with Banff Fire Department”: the Town of Banff Fire Department plays a key role in providing road rescue services in Kootenay National Park, including within the Province of British Columbia. The Town of Banff Fire Department’s staff and volunteers are important partners of Parks Canada in emergency responses within the Park.

In early 2022, Parks Canada requested the Town of Banff transition away from a funding agreement with Parks Canada for road rescue operations in B.C. by Dec. 31, 2022. The intent of this request has never been to impact essential services. Rather, it followed from confirmation that the Town of Banff Fire Department is fully eligible for reimbursement under the road rescue policy of Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC), the public safety agency with jurisdiction over road rescue in B.C.

However, it has recently become clear there remain outstanding issues to be addressed between the Town of Banff Fire Department and EMBC. Accordingly, Parks Canada will maintain the original agreement until its end date of December 31, 2023, which coincides with the projected completion of substantial work on the Kicking Horse Canyon project and the return to more normal call volumes on Highway 93 South. This extension will provide a transition period during which Parks Canada intends to work with the Town of Banff and EMBC to explore integration within the EMBC funding framework, and discuss how to address the potential issues identified by the Banff Fire Department and highlighted at the last Nov. 28 Banff council meeting.

The safety of motorists, including the provision of road rescue services on all highways within the park are of the utmost importance to Parks Canada. We are committed to working with third-party emergency services providers as partners and to facilitating their response to emergency calls within the park, including road rescue, ambulance and structural fire calls.

François Masse,

Superintendent of Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay Field Unit