Fire services agreement extension given disgruntled approval

Written by Terri Huxley

Flagstaff Regional Emergency Services Society (FRESS) was officially incorporated as a federally registered not-for-profit entity as of June 4.

During the organizational meeting on June 15, a discussion occurred on the potential need to extend the current Regional Fire Chief and Fire Services Agreements given the need for some transition and start up time following Mr. Derek Homme’s commencement as regional manager of emergency services.

The current agreements, following an earlier extension, are due to expire on June 30, 2021.

On June 29, 2021 the village received a letter from Flagstaff County formally requesting an extension of the current agreements “until the transition phase of the Flagstaff Regional Services Society (FRESS) is complete.”

The transition period has not been defined in the letter, however, during the FRESS meeting references to a transition period of between three to six months were made suggesting the transition period could extend until the end of the calendar year.

Given the delays in receiving legal opinion follow-up on the Master Agreement and Bylaw drafts, administration is concerned that the transition period may be more lengthy than it otherwise should be.

To date, letters have come from Daysland, Heisler, Lougheed and Sedgewick indicating council approval of the extension of the current agreements until the end of the calendar year.

Council agreed that they had extended these timelines once already and felt the start-up time should be done far earlier than six months.

“It boggles my mind that this will take another six months,” said Mayor Blaise Young.

Council agreed to send a “strongly worded” letter stating council would like to see this process expedited, making the deadline Oct. 15, 2021 before municipal elections take place.

This gives FRESS approximately three months to prepare.

BREOC support letter

Ongoing collaborative efforts with Flagstaff County in economic development have resulted in a potential opportunity that village and county staff are currently working together on securing.

Flagstaff County has previously applied for Western Economic Diversification (WD) funding support for a business case and feasibility study with this application currently being reviewed at WD.

One potential siting option could include a location within close proximity to the village corporate limits. 

Preliminary review shows that connectivity to village services such as water, gas, electricity and sewer would be the lowest cost option for this potential business site.

Extensions of current service lines and corridors would be required to village limits, as would improvements and additions to the current surface transportation network within the village.

Following a video call with WD officials on June 18, the village was advised to submit a stand-alone application for funding support rather than amend the previously submitted Flagstaff County application even though they are related.

During that same meeting, the village was advised that a letter of support from BREOC should accompany the application.

At the June 22, 2021 BREOC board meeting, the village presented it’s request for support for an initial funding request from WD to support concept and area planning for the South Industrial Subdivision and a neighbouring quarter section located in Flagstaff County as well as for scoping and costing of extending surface and subsurface infrastructure in support of economic attraction activities.

The BREOC Board passed a motion supporting Forestburg’s application to the WD Canada Coal Transition Initiative – Infrastructure Fund (CCTI-IF) and a letter of support from BREOC was received by the village to accompany the formal application.

“We want to make sure our community gets as much funding as our community can get its hands on,” said Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dwight Dibben.

No vet yet

In CAO Dibben’s report to council, he met with a consultant of the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) where they had a conversation about possibly bringing in a new veterinarian to Forestburg after the disbarment of Dr. Jeff Serfas.

The intention of the talk was to bring in a new vet but Dibben shared that there were more comments made on the ruling than on the future of vet services in the area.

“It was quite obvious there is a lot of bad blood between the local disbarred vet and the association,” he said.

Mr. Serfas still owns the vet building.

ABVMA is not concerned with ownership as much as getting a licensed practitioner.

“The clinic not being utilized is a detriment to the community and outer area,” said Dibben.

The CAO shared that he will be speaking with other officials at ABVMA to find a solution to getting a veterinarian in the facility as part of economic development.

Business License Bylaw discrepancy

While reading through the business license bylaw, CAO Dibben found a discrepancy that required council’s opinion.

In it, he found that under penalties and fines, a line was quoted saying “Any person contravening a provision of this bylaw shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than four hundred ($250) dollars.”

With two different prices, council needed to weigh in on which amount was meant to be associated.

After discussion, it was agreed to be set at $250.

Council also inquired about trade companies coming to town and if they paid for business licenses while working on residential call-ups within the village.

CAO Dibben shared that the village requires companies to purchase a one-day license or an annual license with many knowing, especially trades, about this as many other communities also ask for these licenses.

“That’s just part of them doing business,” said CAO Dibben.

He added that the village will not be seeking out any offenders, opting to work on a case-by-case basis as it is reported.


Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.