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Penticton man keeps heat on city for fire protection

Steve Boultbee is determined to keep council thinking about fire protection for the homes on the upper portion of Spiller Road.

Ever since a fire in the area on July 1 destroyed a home, Boultbee has been advocating for fire hydrants to be put in the area to avoid a repeat of the situation, where it took the city’s fire department time to get their tender on scene to supply enough water to the engines working the fire. Boultbee’s latest plea came during the city’s budget deliberations, where he asked councillors to consider a new idea.

“Fire hydrants that are needed now here on Spiller Road are in the best interest of the 14 families who live here, and almost everyone else from Macmillan Road to the residence of Naramata,” Boultbee said in a recent letter to the editor. His latest suggestion for city council is to build a water reservoir, supplied by an artesian well above the Campbell Road Landfill, for firefighting purposes.

Along with the destruction of homes, Boultbee is now including the possibility of a catastrophic forest fire — like the 1994 Garnet fire or the 2003 Okanagan Park fire — in his list of reasons why hydrants are a must for the rural area.

“Had we not had rain at the time of the fire, had it not been raining for a week prior, we would have had a situation akin to Kelowna in 2003,” said Boultbee, who freely admits the reservoir concept is not a new idea, but one that came up during a meeting with a developer who wants to build a subdivision below the area.

“We have been working with the developer on that and we have ensured that they will site their reservoir so that Spiller Road would be provided with proper fire protection and domestic water when that subdivision comes online,” said Mitch Moroziuk, director of operations for the city.

That subdivision, however, might be some time in coming, having been put off until the next real estate cycle.

“The next cycle is anywhere from five to seven to 15 years away before they will develop this lot. So that’s a little out there,” said Boultbee, who was nonetheless encouraged by council’s response to his request they look into the reservoir idea.

“My intention is not to ask council to put in hydrants this afternoon or even next year, but to next year have in their budget an engineer to go in to at least tell us the cost of these two possibilities,” said Boultbee, who described the response of the councillors as very positive.

“It sounds like they are going to make an effort to do what they can,” he said. “I know it won’t come quickly, so next year there will be the engineer’s report, the following year, maybe we will be able to implement something. And maybe in the third year, should a situation like that (the July 1 fire) arise, maybe we will have the ability to deal with it.”

 

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