Enilda closure a ‘rumour’, says reeve

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County has no plans to close any of its five fire halls.

Reeve Ken Matthews confirmed that at council’s regular meeting April 28.

He responded to a resident at the meeting who said he heard that the county was going to close down the Enilda fire hall.

“It’s a rumour, that’s all it is,” Matthews says.

“There have been no decisions to close any fire halls in the county.”

Council approved a report of a review of Big Lakes County Fire Services during the meeting.

Matthews says the report doesn’t make any recommendations to close the Enilda fire hall.

A recommendation to accept the report was presented by Brett Hawken, director of protective services.

The report by Sea Hawk Services includes information by the evaluation team under lead evaluator Jamie Coutts.

He suggests that the Enilda fire hall be further reviewed.

“With a small population and limited industry and retail, this hall should be considered for closure,” Coutts says.

“With a fast response from the mutual-aid partners in High Prairie and a short travel distance, this area can be serviced well without a fire hall.”

However, the report recommends Big Lakes close the Kinuso fire hall.

“We would recommend the closure of the Kinuso fire hall,” the report states.

“A full transition to becoming part of a larger regional fire system never happened here, even though the community was connected to Big Lakes County permanently many years ago.”

Kinuso dissolved at a village in 2009 and became a hamlet in the M.D. of Big Lakes.

Enilda resident Don Carlson questioned council about the Enilda fire hall during the public open forum.

Matthews says the roles of the fire hall may change in the future.

He says the report requires much from council and the county.

“We need a lot of time to work on this report,” Matthews says.

“It will take about two to three years to work on it.”

Fire chief Jason Cottingham says he and administration will present recommendations to council.

“We can bring back individual items to council as needed,” says Cottingham, who became the fire chief Sept. 21, 2020.

“It’s a road map.”

Any changes will be decided by council, Matthews says.

In a second recommendation, council directed administration to present cost analysis for the items for council for discuss.

Enilda – Big Meadow Councillor Donald Bissell asked for that before the second recommendation was discussed.

“I would like to see costs of specific items in the report,” says Bissell, deputy fire chief in Enilda.

CAO Jordan Panasiuk says the report is available to the public at the county office in High Prairie.

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