Forest fire hazard levels are extreme in Harrison Hot Springs right now. The Fraser Valley Regional District states East Sector Park has been closed due to the high fire risk. (Adam Louis/Observer)

Forest fire hazard levels are extreme in Harrison Hot Springs right now. The Fraser Valley Regional District states East Sector Park has been closed due to the high fire risk. (Adam Louis/Observer)

Harrison Hot Springs Council clears fire department to assist with B.C. wildfires

Fire department would send four members, one engine if required

Municipal government is humming along – and for the first time in several months, it’s in person.

During their first in-person meeting since December 2020, the village of Harrison Hot Springs Council voted 4-1 (Coun. Ray Hooper opposed) to approve Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department’s request to participate in the B.C. Wildfire Service Structure Protection Program and to deploy four members and a secondary fire engine if required.

Fire chief Trevor Todd said Emergency Management B.C. has requested fire departments across the province register their availability to assist with wildfire firefighting efforts if needed.

The fire department currently has four members with engine boss training, which means they can act as commander in a wildfire situation. The remaining firefighters in Harrison have already or will be taking wildfire firefighting training courses.

The HHSFD is currently on standby to assist the Agassiz Fire Department per the mutual aid agreement. If they are deployed, there will be one engine and 16 members available to assist with local emergencies, and the AFD can assist where needed.

Coun. Gerry Palmer said he was concerned about possible costs to the village, but Todd stated that the trucks are insured and any recoupables are covered through the province.

READ ALSO: Harrison council approves Miami River, McCombs trail project

“It seems like it really has very little negatives and the possibility of doing a lot of positives, so I’m certainly supportive,” Palmer added.

Hooper had concerns that sending firefighters and equipment away may create “serious trouble” if a wildfire breaks out near the village.

East Sector Lands remain closed due to extreme wildfire danger.

In other council business, Council voted 4-1 (Hooper opposed) to apply for the Canada Community Revitalization Fund for up to $675,000 to revitalize the pathway and area surrounding Harrison Lake Lagoon. This revitalization project is one of three main projects from the 2019 Lagoon Master Plan; the lagoon’s fountain is also included in this plan as well as work on the berm and plaza.

RELATED: Harrison Council: Proposed lagoon fountain comes under fire

Hooper said the village “dodged a bullet” in recent years concerning flooding in the lake and the lagoon.

“I don’t want to see any work done around the lagoon until we address the problem with the flooding,” he added. “You can do all this work and the next year – God forbid – lose the whole lot of it.”

Palmer said the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board is considering suspending late fines indefinitely. Palmer was in favour of suspending fines for children to improve accessibility but said he was still in favour of adults paying fines. He said the fines make up about two to three per cent of the library board’s budget and argued that though small, the effect of eliminating fines could translate to increased levy costs. A final decision is yet to be made.

Coun. Samantha Piper was not in attendance.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 9, at Memorial Hall at 7 p.m. This meeting will be broadcast via Zoom and will be available online on the village’s YouTube channel. For Zoom registration instructions, visit harrisonhotsprings.ca.

City CouncilHarrison Hot Springs