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Fire News: Special Town Hall in Review

    Fire & Police    February 27, 2018

As you may have missed the Fire Trustees’s special Town Hall designed to initiate a series of conversations with the community, you may find a summary of this event interesting. . . .

A New Firehall?:

At 7:00 p.m., after Chair Per Svendsen welcomed everyone and introductions were made, a member of the public asked for an update concerning a new firehall. An engaged and interesting discussion ensued, and the majority of the evening was spent exploring opinions about a new firehall. Per confirmed that a two-acre property on Brinkworthy Road had been donated to the Salt Spring Fire Protection District and would likely be the proposed location for the new firehall. He said that members of the Facilities and Physical Plant Committee, as well as some other Trustees, had recently toured three halls on Vancouver Island and are planning to visit more in March.

There was a great deal of discussion about the possibility of a building that would integrate services in addition to Fire Rescue. Housing all emergency services under one roof was mentioned for service integration as well as cost offsets. Other partners, such as CRD and Islands Trust, were also suggested.

There was some discussion about the failures of past firehall referendums. It was suggested that the publication of firefighter salaries shortly before the most recent referendum upset voters. Also, many felt that the proposed firehall was too grand and expensive. When the Walker Report analyzed the failure of the referendum, it indicated that there was a lack of community outreach between the Trustees and the public.It was concluded that there is a need for an open and transparent discussion. This conversation was identified as a first step in the public consultation needed to move forward planning a new firehall.

Shared Responsibility:

One participant discussed the widely-held illusion that our rural and widely-dispersed community will get the same fire protection service as an urban area. Instead, homeowners have the responsibility to implement fire prevention steps to protect their homes as well as being better-prepared to protect their home in the case of fire. A discussion ensued about the effectiveness our POD system could have in preparing neighbourhoods to both prevent fires as well as reinforcing their ability to contain a fire until the fire department arrives. Firefighters welcome the opportunity to work with community PODs to develop strategies to address this shared responsibility.

Access to Information

A member of the public asked for clarification regarding the access to information concerns that were recently reported in the Driftwood. There is discussion within the Board of Trustees about addressing Trustees’s need for access to the information needed to perform their fiscal and management duties while adhering to provincial law protecting access to some personal information.

Union Negotiations:

In preparation for negotiations, Firewise Consulting Ltd. is researching the District’s call volume and, specifically, the number of calls at night when the firehalls are not staffed. It is expected that the Firewise report will be complete by the end of March 2018.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Andrew Peat reported that the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA) will do the District’s bargaining with the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). The GVLRA has a professional negotiating team whose mandate is to bargain in our best interest. GVLRA has recently finished bargaining for the District of Oak Bay, and we are next in line, with negotiations expected to begin this spring.

Upcoming Trustee Election and Committee Vacancies:

The Board of Trustees election is scheduled in April, and community members are encouraged to run for the three Trustee positions. There are also committee positions available, and public support on these committees is welcomed. If anyone is interested in running for election as a Trustee or becoming a member of a committee, please contact CAO Andrew Peat for information, 537-2531.

Conclusion:

A participant spoke of the ripple effect of a positive meeting like this and expressed support for fire safety community outreach. Another participant commended the Trustees for their accomplishments.

Dates to Remember:

Nomination Period for Three Trustee Positions is March 6-16, 2018

The AGM is scheduled on April 16, 2018.

See you there!

Special Town Hall in Review

January 24, 2018, Lions Hall
by Communications and Marketing Committee,
Salt Spring Fire Improvement District

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