By Andru McCracken

A raft of communities are offering each other help should they need it. During their April 28th council meeting, the Village of Valemount signed a mutual aid agreement with communities in the Thompson Nicola Regional District.

Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Robinson recommended the village sign the mutual aid agreement, even though he said it was unlikely to be used.

“The purpose is so that if qualified operators of a utility become ill and are required to quarantine for two weeks, that another local government’s operators could step in and assist that local government to maintain its most critical services: water and sewer,” Robinson wrote in a summary.

“The agreement was drawn up by the TNRD and is not binding in any way – it is an expression of a desire to assist each other in this emergency situation and provide the framework for that to take place.”

In the agreement Valemount would be called on to assist ‘close’ communities, like Blue River and potentially as far as Barriere, but no further.

Robinson said the CAOs of Valemount and McBride have already informally discussed the same type of assistance to one another.

Robinson noted that Northern Health has already made an exception allowing other non-certified public works staff to operate the utility in the interim, if qualified operators become ill.

“At this time, it appears this agreement will not ever need to be exercised, but it is prudent to consider such an agreement for the sake of security, to show good faith with our neighbours, and as a backup plan,” he said.

Council agreed to enter into the agreement.