Welcome, visitor!   Register   Login

Post an Ad
Menu Post an Ad

Incorporation: Response to Open Letter to the Fire District Board of Trustees

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 16, 2017

A group of ex-Fire Board Trustees have written a letter to the current trustees chastising them for not coming out in favour of incorporation after an attempt was made to strong arm them to do so. Our current trustees sensibly waited to hear what the “no” folks had to say. That group didn’t ask the Trustees to come out in favour of no. They requested that the Trustees remain neutral on the basis that there was nothing to support it being in their ratepayers’ interest for them to express a bias. The referendum itself would allow their ratepayers to indicate their preferences. In addition, the “no” group came with well-researched information about how the Fire Board could find additional funding without incorporating and advised that Fire Departments all over the province rarely receive major infrastructure grants from senior governments. The Trustees appeared grateful for the information and deferred the matter and subsequently decided to stay neutral.

Effective enforcement of fire bans and other fire regulations is certainly needed. However, there is a much simpler way of achieving by-law enforcement than the massive intrusion, expense (roads, policing, and staffing), and loss of our Local Trust Committee that would result from incorporation. Existing CRD bylaws would allow the Fire Chief, CRD bylaw enforcement officer, or the RCMP to issue tickets and levy fines for violations of a fire ban or other offences. The fire district would simply need to become a CRD local service area, perhaps under a CRD advisory Commission, a Local Community Commission, or a non-profit society contracting with the CRD. This can be achieved under our current unincorporated governance status. New fire department facilities could also receive gas tax and other grant funding through the CRD.

That aside, let’s take a look at the whole picture here. Firstly, we have some of the very trustees who thought we should abolish the Fire Board and take out more fire insurance now using our fears about forest fires and the importance of fire fighters to promote incorporation.

Secondly we have the people who tried to browbeat the current Fire Board into submission a month or so ago continuing the assault in their letter and apparently returning for yet another round at the next board meeting. This doesn’t sound like concern about brush fires to me, it sounds like politics.

Samantha Sanderson

The Open Letter to the Fire District Board of Trustees

It’s fire season. We can see it in our air from fires that are hundreds of miles away. In the summer, there is almost always a fire ban on Salt Spring. This year is no exception. In fact, this year, the risk is so high that the Fire Chief has even banned small campfires. Nevertheless, some people don’t or won’t follow the rules. The Fire Chief reports that it’s happened 13 times in July, and August isn’t likely to be better.

What happens on Salt Spring if somebody lights a fire or engages in other hazardous activity outside while the ban is on? A neighbour reports it and fire trucks roll. Firefighters have the legal authority to tell the firestarter to put the fire out and, if that’s not done, to put the fire out themselves. They educate the person about the risks and they leave. If the fire is re-lit, they come back, douse it again, and deliver another stern lecture. That is the practical extent of their legal authority, because they work for an improvement district, which provincial law gives virtually no enforcement authority.

Contrast this with what happens in a municipality if somebody lights a fire outside while a ban is on. Fire trucks will come, just like before. The first time, chances are there is just the same stern lecture about risks. The second time, bylaw enforcement comes along after the fire engines. Tickets get written. Fines get levied. The consequence for breaking the law and endangering your neighbours is more than having a finger wagged at you.

If everyone understands the risks and complies with rules enacted to protect the whole community, then governance structure doesn’t matter. Mix in a few rule breakers, and it matters a lot.

The Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District hasn’t yet decided what opinion they should express about the incorporation question that’s on the ballot in a few weeks, or whether they should express an opinion at all. So we ask the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District for a response: You are guardians of public safety. Your enforcement ability is affected by whether the island votes Yes or No on September 9th. The public wants to know where you stand.

Michael Craig, Fire District Trustee, 2015-16
Grant Eckberg, Fire District Trustee, 2009-13
Mitchell Forest, Fire District Trustee, 2015-17
Derek Hill, Fire District Trustee, 2015-16
Ken Lee, Fire District Trustee, 2004-07
Linda Lee, Fire District Trustee, 2015-16
Mark Lucich, Fire District Trustee, 2011-2013
Norbert Schlenker, Fire District Trustee, 2015-16

Comments May Not Be Seen by the Author

No Tags


Community News

  • Trust to Put Brakes on Fulford Inn ̵...

    by on 19 hours ago

    As many of you know, our proposal is a Development Permit with Variances. We propose to amend the motel, liquor store, and pub uses under the existing zoning into a modern, vibrant village square that offers an immersive Saltspring experience to visitors, while providing an essential gathering place for South Island residents, an essential community […]

  • Maracaibo Vessel Fire

    by on August 8, 2019

    Salt Spring Island Fire Rescue responded to a boat fire off Maracaibo on Salt Spring Island on August 7th, 2019. The initial call came in at 17:38 and crews completed the scene at 01:15 10 Firefighters responded with 4 fire trucks along with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard and Eagle Eye Vessel Assist. On […]

  • Fire News: Chief’s Response Report – 201...

    by on August 6, 2019

    Vision: A responsive and sustainable fire-rescue service, effectively meeting community needs and valued by those we serve. Mission: Always learning, engaging and adapting to be response ready. Response Report Salt Spring Island Firefighters responded to 58 calls the month of June.   Operations We experienced a very dry June with below-normal precipitation.  Over the month […]

  • Thoughts on My Trial, Part 3: Sentencing...

    by on July 31, 2019

    On July 26th, the judge sentenced me to carry on with my volunteer work on Salt Spring — no fine, no probation officer, no jail. For six months, I’m to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” Apparently, this is the most lenient sentence he’s given to date for the 230+ convicted of contempt […]

  • Edit the Garden, August Planting

    by on July 30, 2019

    If your tomatoes are slow to ripen, you are not alone! Many people are wondering about it, but this cooler summer is the way our ‘normal’ summers used to be: for those that have forgotten how long it used to take tomatoes to ripen outdoors, this is a reminder. On the other hand, many other […]

  • Podcast: An Environmental Organization t...

    by on July 22, 2019

    Have you ever wondered who was behind the Electric Vehicle Recharge Stations, Car Stops, Eco Home Tours, solar panels on the high school’s roof, Rainbow Road Gardens on Salt Spring Island on the island? In this episode, I’m talking with an organization that is helping communities with reducing their dependence on fossil fuels & increasing […]

  • Salt Spring National Art Prize Announces...

    by on July 18, 2019

    Five Salt Spring artists have been named as finalists for the Salt Spring National Art Prize (SSNAP). They are among the fifty or so artists from across Canada to have their work eligible to win one of nine awards, six selected by jurors and three selected by public vote. Local artists are also in the […]

  • Notice to Bus Riders – Detours on ...

    by on July 18, 2019

    Effective July 22 to August 30, 2019 – Please be advised that Walker’s Hook Road will be closed for repairs between Fort Street and Hedger Road beginning July 22 until August 30, 2019. This closure will be in effect 24 hours a day during these dates. During this time period please note that routes 5 Fernwood and 6 […]

  • Podcast: The Tiny Home on Wheel’s ...

    by on July 8, 2019

    I’m on the Salt Spring Gulf Island Community Radio interviewing people near and far who are making good news on the planet by helping to shift the outcome of our future. These people and companies have created solutions to local and global issues we’re facing at the moment. Sharing the good news that’s happening on […]

  • Carrot Day

    by on July 5, 2019

    It is time for my annual reminder to sow lots of carrots for winter harvests in the next week or two. For me, July 1 is always Carrot Day as well as Canada Day (US readers: think 4th of July). As long as you sow before July 10, your carrots should have time to grow […]

  • Minister Seeking Input on Private Manage...

    by on July 3, 2019

    Minister wants your input on future of British Columbia forests – On May 28, 2019, the provincial government announced a review of the Private Managed Forest Land Program. They have invited British Columbians to add your voice to the program review. The province is accepting public comments until July 22, 2019. Over the past few […]

Pin It on Pinterest