Minister Paulie Chinna ruled out the GWNT paying for fire services on Ingraham Trail, which have officially ceased to be covered by the City of Yellowknife.
Chinna, the Minister for Municipal and Community affairs, said her department would not cover the costs of fire services in the area.
“However, it is a built-up area; this is a cabin area,” said Chinna. “We have areas throughout the territory that — what are we going to start doing? Are we going to be going out to each cabin lease, and are we going to be starting to fight those fires? Looking at this, Ingraham Trail, it’s very unique.”
In a report compiled by MACA looking at options for fire services along Highway 3 and 4, estimates said it would cost the City of Yellowknife $1.7 million initially and $1.2 million annually to continue the coverage it currently provides to residents in the area.
MACA said it would be prohibitively expensive for the City of Yellowknife, adding it made response times slower for Yellowknife residents within the municipality.
This meant unless another option was found, residents would have to divide the cost between them.
There are around 300 residents in the area. To keep the current fire services, they would have to pay around $5,666 in the first year and $4,000 annually after that.
Residents will have to pay extra fees if they actually require a call out. To have a fire crew attend a scene outside Yellowknife’s municipal boundaries, it will cost $1500, plus $2 per kilometre they have to travel, plus $500 for the first two hours, with each two hour block after that costing $200 and any overtime costs for firefighters working overtime.
MLA for Yellowknife North Rylund Johnson criticized the territorial government for not being clearer about their unwillingness to pay, when discussions about the fire services were first raised in October.
Johnson said the trail’s residents still pay taxes, but are set to get no coverage for that tax money.
Chinna responded that the Ingraham Trial is not recognized as a community, but as a built-up area with cabins, meaning MACA doesn’t provide residents within the area any funding.
Back in October, Johnson said he would push for Ingraham Trail to be incorporated as a hamlet, which would qualify the area for MACA funding. Johnson did not mention the idea in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
Alternative options like the Ingraham Trail creating its own fire department (too expensive, lack of training), or using the Yellowknife airports’ fire truck (impacts airport safety), Dettah’s community fire crew (lack of training) or Environment and Natural Resources’ seasonal fire crew (unavailable most of the year) all had problems.
Chinna said the territorial government only received figures about the cost extending the City of Yellowkinfe’s coverage in December. Chinna spoke about a reduced figure with the City of Yellowknife, adding the GNWT and the city are in a difficult scenario.
She added consultations were ongoing.