Last Monday the City of Prince Rupert held the first of many public forums on the proposed emergency building , this time examining why it’s needed.
The Fire Chief was there, as was the Inspector of the RCMP, to address any questions or concerns that might have arisen from the public or from council. And while those members of council who were present and City staff certainly heard from those in attendance on the matter, it’s unfortunate that there weren’t more people present to provide input, solicit answers and generally engage in the discussion on this subject.
It’s a hot topic, one that has been discussed for several months dating back to before the November election and has been on the radar of council and the public in general for a number of years. Everyone has their opinion on the subject – related to the cost, the location and the need – but when the opportunity arises to discuss with the decision makers the turnout is, we’ll say, less than impressive.
Aside from being an hot topic, there can be no question that this is an important topic and one that will effect those living in Prince Rupert for the foreseeable and somewhat distant future.
If council moves ahead with the emergency services building, taxes will likely increase quite a bit to cover the cost of the building, money available for other infrastructure projects like roads and water will be significantly lessened and taxpayers as a whole will be on the hook for a lot of money for many years to come.
If council decides against it, money is available for other projects but the safety of first responders is put at risk, as is Prince Rupert’s infrastructure and ability to respond in case of an emergency, and the City could be on the hook for a new detachment anyway as per the agreement between the RCMP and the province. One letter on the condition of the detachment has been received, if two more come in the province could build a new one – perhaps at a higher cost – and bill it back to the municipality.
With stakes like this on the line for this generation and those to come, I would hope to see more people and more engagement on the subject. Engagement is the only way to reach the best solution.