POLITICS

Saskatchewan reserve pays bills, signs contract with volunteer fire crew

03/05/2015 02:35 EST | Updated 05/05/2015 05:59 EDT
LOON LAKE, Sask. - A Saskatchewan reserve where two children died in a house fire has a new contract with the volunteer fire department in a neighbouring village.

Laurie Lehoux, the administrator in Loon Lake, says Makwa Sahgaiehcan (Sah-GAYG'-gehn) First Nation has also paid its outstanding bills with the fire department.

The village had cut the band off fire services in November because it had accumulated $3,300 in outstanding fire bills since last spring.

Only RCMP responded to a house fire on Feb. 17 that killed a two-year-old boy and his 18-month-old sister.

The fire chief said he got a call about the fire but chose not to send his crew.

At the time, band officials said they didn't know fire services had been cancelled and believed firefighters would still attend calls on the reserve.

The confusion fuelled tensions after the fire and RCMP charged a man after threats were allegedly posted on Facebook about the fire chief.

Lehoux said Thursday that the band has agreed to the terms of its old contract, which includes an annual fee of $5,000 plus costs for each fire the department attends.

"We're going to try to mend the relationship," Lehoux said Thursday, adding the village and band are also discussing other possible business partnerships.

Band chief Richard Ben has said the reserve has had a working fire truck for several years. But he said it isn't properly equipped and no crew had ever been trained to use it.