Fire News: People Profile - Fire Trustees Howard Baker

When did you come to Salt Spring? And, what bought you here?

My wife and I purchased our offshore sailboat in Brentwood Bay in November of 1999. Sailing around the Salish Sea the following summer, the Farmers Market in Ganges was high on our list of places to visit. Anchoring in the harbor, we rowed our dinghy into the Coast Guard dock and were charmed by Salt Spring. Like many who have visited Salt Spring, we decided to move here permanently.

We arrived in 2005 and spent that summer building a studio on property that we had purchased three years earlier. I spent much of the next ten years completing that studio and then building a larger home on this same property. My wife joked that, for many of those years, I was under house arrest. And, often, it felt that way. We got our Final Occupancy Permit, and I became a Canadian citizen several summers ago. Finally, I was free to become involved in some challenging issues facing Salt Spring.

Why did you decide to become a Fire Trustee? 

When I emerged from home-building, the incorporation debate was raging, centered on charges of governmental inadequacy throughout Salt Spring. After reading the preliminary incorporation report and discussing it with friends, I realized how easily the events faced by the Fire Department in the past ten years could be repeated throughout Salt Spring. Rather than simply worrying, I decided to try to make a difference by running for election as a Fire Trustee.

In the wake of the repudiation of municipal governance, I am gathering information and working with others on the Island to find forms of governance that will address our lack of coherent planning and execution, and, most importantly, working to strengthen the role of Fire Trustees to addresses the challenges that will be faced in the next few years.

What did you do before becoming a Trustee to prepare you for this task?

My degree in accounting and career in building construction have given me skills in practical problem solving and financial analysis that allow me to understand and address the complex issues facing our Fire Department.

What do you hope to accomplish as a Fire Trustee?

We are lucky that Fire-Rescue Services can function well (at least in the short term) without input from a Board of Trustees (as has been proven in the last year.) Evidence of disfunction on the Board abounds - probably going back as far as anyone can remember even while no evidence of personal malfeasance or ill intention has emerged. Yet, we seem to bounce from one crisis to another interspersed with periods of seeming stability.

Heavy on the hope, I hope that the Fire Board of Directors will become the true governing body as charged in our Letters Patent and defined in the Local Government Act, Community Charter, and other Provincial legislation.

I am intent on working with my colleagues on the Board to further our understanding of our role and the personal responsibilities that entails. In other words - strengthening the Board of Trustees. Luckily, we do have a roadmap for accomplishing just that - The Walker Report!

How do I intend to accomplish this? First, by making the commitment to always be respectful and listening to all points of view even when I disagree. And, second, to do the tedious work of analyzing existing reports, financial statements, and studies to find options for positive progress.

Fire Trustee - Howard Baker















December 19, 2017 8:00 AM