Sundre, county looking at boat options

Provincial flood grant money gives the Sundre fire department enough to cover the cost of purchasing a river rescue boat that the fire chief said they need.

Provincial flood grant money gives the Sundre fire department enough to cover the cost of purchasing a river rescue boat that the fire chief said they need.

But the Town of Sundre and Mountain View County still have to decide if they’re willing to pay for the operating cost of the boat before it can be purchased.

Fire Chief Marty Butts has long wanted to bring in a river rescue boat. The fire department uses inflatable boats that don’t have a motor, making it hard to access some rescues.

A river rescue boat would allow the fire department to traverse the Red Deer River and other waterways for rescues.

Currently they rely on personal boats for this function, but this has its limitations and he believes they would be better served with a rescue boat of their own.

“We don’t have anything to go up or down stream,” said Butts. “We’ve had scenarios where we have to go pick up canoers who had their canoe tip over and it’s down the river with all their belongings and they are stranded on an island.

“How do you get upstream to do that?”

The funding comes through a readiness grant, of which Sundre received $96,175.

The town applied for the funding in the wake of the June 2013 flood that devastated parts of Southern Alberta.

Butts said they already used some of the grant money from the province to purchase new life-jackets, ropes and carabineers. They lost a significant amount of these rescue items during the flood. But the big ticket item is the boat.

“Our chief administrative officer (Dave Dubauskas) pushed it forward,” said Butts. “It’s been one of my goals when I became chief to improve our gear and a boat is one of them.”

Butts thinks the town is on board, he just has to sell the idea to the county. The boat and the rescues will take place throughout the county, not just in Sundre.

He concedes, if the purchase is approved, that the boat may not arrive until the fall.

“With the river coming through our community it is a big draw for summer events,” said Butts. “We have kids tubing throughout the summer, kayaking, canoeing, river rafting companies use it. It gets used quite a bit.”

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