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Jo MacDonald – 2019 Fire Board Election – Candidate Profile

    Editorial & Opinions, Election Candidates    April 7, 2019

I am thankful every day to be a resident of Salt Spring. Born in Alberta, I moved first to Vancouver, then Courtenay, then Victoria, but my soul quickly settled in Salt Spring. My family (husband Bill and our five children) have a deep love of this Island. We also have two “Salty Dogs”, Maddi and Molli, who love to muck about on our 6 acres of forest, gardens and quiet places. Our family’s best times have been here.

We support our local businesses, marvel at the rich and diverse talents of the residents and treasure the genuine caring nature of Salt Spring Islanders. Although I work for the District of Saanich, I gladly commute daily in order to live in the place I love best.

I, like the rest of you, experienced the dramatic effect of weather systems on our Island this past winter, and saw the heavy demand placed on our emergency services. They worked tirelessly and their response was phenomenal. I have both an ability and a desire to apply my professional knowledge, skills and experience to enable our Fire Service to respond to any emergency we face in even more demanding circumstances in a fiscally responsible way.

What brought you to the area?

We discovered Salt Spring by boat, first arriving on a sailboat with our own five children, 2 extra small guests, 2 dogs and 3 cats. It was love at first sight for all of us, and on our many subsequent trips we discovered more and more places to love and treasure. It quickly became our goal to spend our lives in the place our souls had adopted.

What one thing about Salt Spring would you tell someone who has never visited the island?

From the highest elevation to the shoreline the views are breathtaking; the peacefulness incomparable, with flowers, wildlife, birds and sea creatures in abundance, but the heart of the Island is the people – friendly, open, industrious, talented and genuinely caring. This was best exemplified during storms this past winter, when we banded together to help each other. We opened our homes and resources to our neighbours – Glad’s opening its freezers to protect our food; neighbours with water opening their doors to those without it to shower or fill bottles, to name a few. This is something you do not find in most communities and it makes Salt Spring truly special. It is a community I am very proud to be a member of.

If you could change one thing about Salt Spring, what would you change?

I would change the polarization of the community on issues of importance to us all. I will work to bring people together to find common ground on local issues that affect us deeply.

Which well known person, living or dead, do you think would be a good addition to the island?

Stephen Hawking. His research and insight into how the universe and our own world work – especially regarding climate change, would be invaluable to our community.

What do you think the number one community issue on Salt Spring Island is right now?

After experiencing the serious consequences of wind and snow over the past winter, our awareness of our dependence on the resources within our own community to provide emergency services has heightened. Losing power and water was difficult, but for those who lost access to roads the reality of being cut off from emergency services – medical, fire, etc. was a sobering reality. Islanders are seeking long term resources to mitigate the impact of future events, as we cannot call upon neighbouring communities for fast, effective disaster response.

Which elected position are you seeking?

Salt Spring Fire Protection Board Trustee

Why should Salt Springers vote for you?

I have extensive professional experience managing budgets and human resources in a publicly funded environment. I provide support to the Saanich Fire Service as well as other municipal services, and I am well versed in the legislation regulating employers in British Columbia. I have been both a union and a management representative and am currently the Senior Manager of Human Resources with the District of Saanich. I have extensive professional experience managing public budgets. Previously I was the Manager of Consulting Services (Human Resources) with the Vancouver Island Health Authority. In both positions I have been responsible and accountable for labour relations, and for the administration of budgets well in excess of $1 million annually.

I strongly believe in responsible, transparent administration of public funds to achieve the goals and objectives set by the members of the community served.

Is there a really good interview question we should have asked you?

You have worked closely with another Fire Department. What did they have to say about your knowledge, skill, ability and character?

How would you have answered your question?

“Jo is a highly skilled Human Resources professional with extensive local government and public sector management experience. She has worked closely supporting public safety Departments and leadership within the District of Saanich and has in depth knowledge of Fire and Police service cultural norms and the breadth of operational and service delivery challenges that they face. Jo is a highly professional and personable individual. She is very much team orientated and focused on providing balanced and well researched advice that ensure risks are mitigated and organizational interests are safeguarded. As manager and leader Jo ensures a positive and open working environment for her staff and encourages their professional development and growth. Jo is well regarded by her peers and ensures customer service excellence at all times for the Department Head and Elected Officials that she supports and works with.”

Jo MacDonald – 2019 Fire Board Trustee Election – Candidate Profile

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