The Municipality of Swan Valley West will provide the Essential Services and Fire Protection our Residents Depend on.
The Municipality of Swan Valley West intends to work with neighbouring municipalities to design fire protection services that match our specific needs as rural communities. To accomplish this, Council has decided to expand our current fire department by acquiring one additional fire truck and adapting an existing municipal building. By stationing two fire response units at Benito Fire Hall and two near Swan River in a newly accommodated second fire hall, our capacity is increased to provide fire protection to our entire municipality. More details will be provided in the coming months, but the service is intended to be fully operational for 2022.
The Municipality of Swan Valley West desires to work cooperatively with our Neighbours. We continue to do so as we have in the past. Swan Valley West and the Town of Swan River have worked together on Shared Services over the years and continue to work together on many projects such as the Municipal Airport, Swan Lake Watershed Conservation District, North-West Regional Library, Swan Valley RISE, Swan Valley Vet Clinic and Doctor Recruitment. Each has strengths and depends on the other. It would be difficult to justify a landfill or lagoon inside town limits for example. It only makes sense in a heavier populated area to have facilities we can all use. Other neighbours are a part of these agreements and we need to work with them for the good of everyone.
Rural needs often differ from an urban center including recreational facilities, paving and fire equipment. Urban centers use bigger and heavier trucks on pavement, primarily battling structure fires. Rurally we need lighter, adaptable equipment to move quickly through the municipality to reach structure fires and more prevalent wildland grass fires. Each municipality has its own heavy equipment suited to their needs. Fire fighting is no different. We need the right equipment at the right time for the best protection.
We need to be wise with tax money, making decisions that will benefit the widest range of ratepayers. A local government cannot continually add costs, passing the tax burden on to those who do not regularly (or in some cases never) use the service. Fire protection, roads, utilities and recreational facilities in our own municipality require constant maintenance and upgrades, and directly benefit most of our ratepayers.
The Town has detailed service costs that are extremely high compared to the overall benefit provided to our ratepayers. Dividing these costs by urban and rural users only further proves these costs are higher than individuals generally approve. For example, the Town wanted to charge Swan Valley West between $86,000 and $150,000 for the pool with only 19 regular users from the municipality.
The last offer Swan Valley West provided to the Town averaged $383,000/year over the requested four-year term ($358,000 Year 1; $383,000 Year 2; $383,000 Year 3; $408,000 Year 4). The total four-year agreement proposed was $1,532,000. This is 12% of our annual Municipal budget; too high for the benefits received.
We have fulfilled all prior agreements. For 2020, we mutually agreed with the Town on an amount to cover our portion of the costs related to Shared Services. Recent negotiations covered the years 2021-2024.