Canby Fire Plans Two Open Houses to Discuss Levy Ballot Measure

The Canby Fire District is inviting the public to two open houses this weekend to showcase recent upgrades to the main station, demonstrate fire and emergency medical operations, apparatus and equipment, and answer questions about the proposed replacement levy on the ballot in next month’s special election.

The open houses will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the main station located at 221 South Pine Street and the new north-side station on 1460 Northeast Territorial Road.

According to information from Canby Fire, the proposed higher five-year local option levy would allow the district to hire new firefighters and emergency medical personnel and greatly increase operations for fire and medical calls.

In an open letter to community members in February, Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis explained the increase stems from a sharp increase in calls for service — primarily medical emergencies — that has outpaced the district’s funding and staffing levels.

Since voters last approved an 11-cent increase in the district’s local option levy in 2015, raising it from 34 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to the current rate of 45 cents, emergency calls have increased 56%, from 2,284 in 2014 to 3,568 in 2022.

Canby Fire Chief Jim Davis and Division Chief Matt English presented information on the proposed replacement levy at a Rotary Club of Canby meeting earlier this month.

The proposed levy rate unanimously approved by the Canby Fire District Board of Directors in January would represent a 50-cent increase: 95 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

If approved, the average homeowner would pay about $262 a year, Davis said, compared to $113 under the current levy. (For tax purposes, assessed value is different — and typically much lower — than real market value.)

The levy is in addition to the district’s permanent tax rate of $1.54, which cannot be raised under Oregon law.

The current levy funds six of the district’s 18 firefighter/medics. If the new rate is approved, that number would double, with 12 firefighter/medics funded by the operations levy, and a total of 24 serving the Canby Fire District.

The levy would help staff the district’s new Medic Station 363, which opened last summer, greatly improving response times in the north side of town.

Currently, the north station is staffed with two firefighter/medics around the clock. However, safety standards require that at least three firefighters respond to fire emergency calls, which limits the station’s ability to respond to fires.

The levy would ensure three firefighter/medics are assigned to the north station at all times, allowing response to both medical and fire emergencies. There would be other benefits as well, including providing a faster response to wildland fires.

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