More challenges for Wetaskiwin County ice and water rescue program

Just a few months short of a year in the making, the County of Wetaskiwin’s Pigeon Lake Ice and Water Rescue initiative...

Just a few months short of a year in the making, the County of Wetaskiwin’s Pigeon Lake Ice and Water Rescue initiative is slowly moving forward.

Councillors approved approximately $40,000 worth of capital equipment purchases for ice and water rescue during their Dec. 20 meeting. Rescue or emergency operations on a frozen lake are different than during summer months, and require both specialized equipment and training for those persons using the equipment.

On March 31, 2016 council approved Ice and Water Rescue, a 10 year capital and operational agreement between the County of Wetaskiwin and the summer villages of Crystal Springs, Grandview, Ma-Me-O Beach, Norris Beach, Poplar Bay, Argentia Beach, Golden Days, Silver Beach, Itaska Beach, and Sundance Beach. At that time council increased the opt-out time to seven years up from five years.

Recently the county received letters of intent from the summer villages of Grandview, Itaska Beach, Ma-Me-O Beach, Poplar Bay, Argentia Beach, Golden Days, Crystal Springs, Silver Beach, and Sundance Beach, indicating commitment to an annual contribution. Each of the summer villages are meant to contribute $1,000 per year toward the program.

The letters from Silver Beach and Sundance Beach contained a number of terms and conditions the others did not, including but not limited to: the summer villages will contribute $1,000 for the calendar years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 subject to the terms and conditions of the letter of content, the summer villages reserve the right to terminate contributions at any time upon giving written notice to the County of Wetaskiwin, the summer villages will annually review their commitment and look at factors such as the acceptability of the county’s rescue service, the annual operating costs applicable, and the continuing commitment to the program from the other summer villages and Leduc County.

Council passed a motion to have the summer villages of Silver Beach and Sundance Beach contacted to explain the other letters of intent did not contain such terms and conditions.

“I would really like to see this proceed it’s unfortunate two of them decided to do this paperwork,” said Coun. Larry McKeever.

Council was informed the summer villages holding out are concerned about liability. It was also noted one summer village (which was not named at the meeting) requested the opportunity to pay all its contributions upfront as Leduc County did, and not sign any agreement to Ice and Water Rescue.

Leduc County approved a one-time donation of $15,000 at council’s April 5, 2016 meeting.

Council discussed accepting all the letters of intent but not including the terms and conditions in it decision. Mike Zajac, director of emergency services, says in doing that he does not know what the two summer villages in question will come back to council with.