Charlie Lake residents have a big decision to make regarding their fire protection services.
The Charlie Lake Fire Department does not currently have enough volunteers during the day to ensure adequate service to the area, says Fire Chief Al Pinkerton.
Pinkerton says the fire department had an insurance underwriter study done in September which showed that the department would require six qualified staff during the day on a consistent basis, which has so far been a problem ensuring. He says that the number of volunteers often varies between six and eight or three and four on any given day.
The fire department is now facing the prospect of either hiring two staff members – one full-time and one part-time – or potentially having to disband.
The choice for residents, Pinkerton says, is that they have to decide whether they would prefer a tax increase to cover the additional staff or have their home insurance increase significantly.
Currently, Charlie Lake is considered a semi-protected area, but he says if the department cannot acquire enough staff, the area would be considered unprotected, resulting in a 50 per cent increase in a person’s house insurance.
He says residents need to realise that if the department has to hire staff, they could see a $25 to $35 increase in their regional taxes. However, if the department does not hire staff, residents could see a 50 per cent increase in their insurance, which he says could translate to an additional $1,200 to $1,400 a year for an average $300,000 home.
The fire department currently covers around 6,000 residents and 122 businesses.
Charlie Lake residents are encouraged to attend the public meeting being held at the Pomeroy Hotel on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story stated that residents could see a couple hundred dollar increase in their regional taxes. That was incorrect. The increase would only be between $25 and $35, bringing the portion of resident’s taxes towards the fire department up to a couple hundred dollars.