Some weeks have passed since Salt Spring’s divisive referendum and it’s reassuring to see our community again moving forward rather than circling its wagons before firing inward. The Library, the Rainbow Road Pool, ArtSpring, our Conservancy, Salt Spring Literacy and many other local organizations continue to meet various needs. Efforts are again underway to improve health care on our Island and the Salt Spring Foundation is becoming an increasingly positive force. Some progress is even being made, finally, in dealing with our community’s social housing crisis. And all of this is happening as residents from both the “Yes” and the ”No” referendum camps have begun meeting to explore areas of cooperation rather than of conflict.
We can also add to this constructive picture the fact that the current Fire Board is also proceeding in both a socially responsible and cost conscious manner. I am not on the current Fire Board nor have I ever served on any previous Board. However, I have been closely observing Fire Board activities since long before the 2012 Fire Hall referendum. Like all of you, I have witnessed these previous Boards moving from being overly willing to spend rate payer money to being fixated on cost control at the expense of every thing else. Now, however, I see the current Fire Board making real progress as it walks a middle path between these two extremes.
This time experienced professional negotiators will be representing the Board in its coming negotiations with the Union representing our fire fighters. A fire engine must be replaced in the near future if Islanders are going to continue to benefit from favorable fire insurance rates. However, less expensive “used” as well as “new” options that would meet this replacement need are being explored. The current Fire Board also seems committed to developing plans for a new, long needed, Fire Hall but at a cost significantly below the amount requested in 2012.
Because I like what the current Board is attempting to do, I have joined its Communications & Marking Committee. In the months to come, that Committee will be using both print and social media to keep Islanders aware both of the very real challenges facing fire protection on Salt Spring and the progress being made in meeting those challenges. We will also be telling a story that, unfortunately, has not received any where near the attention it deserves—the great work regularly being done both by our core of full time fire fighters and by their “on call” colleagues.
However, we all know that the only meaningful communication is two way communication. The current Fire Board is also looking forward to hearing from any and all of you with ideas regarding fire safety on Salt Spring. To facilitate that two way flow of information, the Fire Board will be holding a series of “Town Hall” meetings throughout 2018. The first of these meetings, one focused on the fire protection challenges currently facing our community, will be held Wednesday, January 24, 2018 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at the Lions Hall. That will be a great opportunity, but only one of many, that the Board will have to learn your views as to what might best be done in response to the fire safety issues we collectively face.
Mark your calendars and plan to be there.
Fire Town Hall
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Lions Hall, 7:00-9:00 p.m.