Thursday, August 27, 2015

Town and MD agree to joint Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission

Back row (l-r): Deputy Reeve Terry Yagos, Town Councillor Lorne Jackson, MD Councillor Garry Marchuk, Town Councillors Doug Thornton and Jim Litkowski, MD Councillor Fred Schoening, Town Councillor Mark Barber
Front row: Mayor Don Anderberg, Reeve Brian Hammond
C. Davis photo

Christian Davis - Councils for the Town of Pincher Creek and the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 (MD) today announced they have reached  an agreement "to jointly provide fire and ambulance services through the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission" and that disaster management services "will be jointly provided by the newly formed Pincher Creek Emergency Management Organization".

The announcement closes an uncertain chapter in emergency management for the greater Pincher Creek area, and opens a new chapter of cooperation between the two governing political entities.  The Village of Cowley is also covered by the new Pincher Creek Emergency Management Organization (PCEMO).  Pincher Station, Beaver Mines, and Lundbreck are also included as MD communities.

The announcement came this afternoon after two days of mediation held at Luigi's restaurant in Pincher Creek, which involved members of both councils, Town Mayor Don Anderberg, MD Reeve Brian Hammond, Town CAO Laurie Wilgosh, and MD CAO Wendy Kay.

In February of this year the Province approved mediation between the Town and the MD after disagreements arose between the two councils over the inclusion of the Pincher Creek Community Emergency Management Agency (PCCEMA) in the Pincher Creek Emergency Services Commission.

"As we always have worked together, we are formalizing the agreement now," said Mayor Anderberg.  "I think we had a few issues around our Emergency Management Agency, and our Emergency Services Commission, and we got together for the last two days here and came together as both councils, with some facilitation, and came to an agreement that both communities are willing to work forward on, which includes the Village of Cowley."

"I think it's been a really good two days, and at the very least, we have learned a lot about each other, and our organizations."

Reeve Brian Hammond  said "I think this is a good example of councils from both jurisdictions willing to look at the bigger issues, and that's the interests of the broader community and coming to an agreement that will better serve and protect that group."

"I think we made a real breakthrough here."

"We have had some, I think you could say, some longer standing issues that we have come to a place (where) we can agree on a compromise, and it shows in my mind the good will of the representatives of both jurisdictions, to try and address the needs of the broader community and that's what we're here to do. I think we've been successful."

Mayor Anderberg added "The bottom line is the health, safety, and protection of all the citizens of our community, and the community of course is all our jurisdictions in the southwest corner here."

"I think it's a good basis to move forward on a bunch of other issues that we have, and we do have lots and we work together. Historically, we work together really, really well. This is a bit of a blip in the road. We'll work everything out, and the committee will be stronger for it. "

Said Mayor Anderberg "There's two things that happened here. One thing is that fire and ambulance will continue, will be in the commission, the commission will go ahead. The Emergency Management Agency is now going to be a separate committee again, or organization, and certainly the MD has their organization in place, the Town also has their organization in place. We're all going to come together and work together under one umbrella again." ... "To provide a joint service", added Reeve Hammond.

Mayor Anderberg said the Town and MD would have a meeting "as soon as possible" to discuss integration and "get that all official".

At their March 10 meeting, council for the Municipal District of Pincher Creek No. 9 approved the expenditure of up to $50,000 to cover hiring a consultant to train MD and Village of Cowley staff "to a suitable level in case an Emergency Control Centre needed to be activated, as well as developing an Emergency Management Plan".  According to MD CAO Wendy Kay, approximately 30 MD personnel have now been trained "on various levels of ICS protocols."

According to Reeve Hammond,  Kay will be the Director of the new Emergency Management Organization "in the interim".

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