The new draft of Fire Services Bylaw continues to cause concern with Rural Fire Associations and local residents.

A request for decision Re: Bylaw 2018-07 – Fire Services Bylaw was held on Tuesday, August 14th at the Wheatland County Council Meeting. This was attended by approximately 100 people including local government officials, volunteer firefighters from surrounding fire associations, farmers and county residents.

Joanne Klauer Wheatland County Lawyer said, "The new bylaw if approved would replace and repeal three current bylaws 2010-03, 2014-31 and 2017-44 in the county."
"The purpose of the fire services bylaw, firstly there would be a recognition of the responsibility and importantly liability of the county in the context of current provincial legislation," she said.
"Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years and have changed again as of June 1st with respect to OH&S," she said.

There was confusion among those attending and the council members after the first meeting that was held to discuss the draft bylaw.  Brett Gates Standard Rural Fire Association (RFA) President expressed concern that the councilors were not allowed to speak to the local fire associations to discuss the proposed changes, due to the previous meeting being held in camera.

Jason Wilson Division 1 councilor said, "Council never told me I couldn't go to the Rural Fire Association meeting, I decided that myself because I thought that might put me in trouble with ethics because first reading had already went on."

Klauer said, "In this case with fire services bylaw where there is no statutorily mandated public hearing, and in fact, this isn't really a public hearing this is where people can come to say their piece on this bylaw"
"In my view, there's nothing that would preclude counselors in this context to meet and discuss with whoever you like at any particular stage of the process.  It's not like when you're in a public hearing process and you would be putting yourself into a bias position."

There is a lot of concern among residents and local firefighters involved that this draft of the bylaw is not in the best interest of the local RFA's.  The attendees expressed concern and requested that the council sit down with each RFA to review all proposed changes and the effects that it would have.

The outcome of this meeting was Wheatland County Council will sit down prior to second reading with the Town of Standard, Town of Rockyford, Standard Rural, Rockyford Rural, Dalum Rural and Rosebud Rural to discuss bylaw 2018-07.

Alan Larson Mayor of Standard said, " The only thing I would recommend is that we include the village of Hussar and their rural fire as well."

Council voted on this request and it was carried unanimously.