Saturday, May 25, 2024
May 25, 2024

Fire, water board candidates answer Q&A 

The two largest improvement districts on Salt Spring Island are holding elections this month — with three candidates vying for two trustee positions at each. 

For the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD), voting will take place by both mail-in ballot and in person; mail-in ballots were out March 26 and must be received at the fire hall in Ganges — 105 Lower Ganges Rd. — by 4 p.m., Thursday, April 25. Advance in-person voting will be held 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 at the fire hall, with regular voting at the same time and place Saturday, April 27. 

Similarly, in the North Salt Spring Waterworks District (NSSWD) election, voters can participate in an advance mail-in ballot process or an in-person voting process; voting packages and instructions were mailed to all eligible voters on March 22, and ballots must be received at the district office — 761 Upper Ganges Rd. — by 4:30 p.m. April 30. In person voting on May 2 will begin at the Community Gospel Chapel at 2 p.m. and end at 6 p.m.   

NSSWD’s AGM will begin as soon as voting closes; SSIFPD’s AGM will be held at the fire hall 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 29.  

The Driftwood reached out all six candidates to offer them a chance to introduce (or re-introduce) themselves to voters with a short Q&A. 


Rob Oliver (incumbent)  

What do you bring to the table, and how has that motivated you to run for a trustee position?  

 I was elected three years ago as a trustee. In those three years we researched how to manage and have a business plan. We put that to the community in a referendum. 75 per cent voted in favour of our plan. We then chose an architect, contractor and owners’ representative. We have begun tendering contracts and equipment will be visible later this month. Concrete will be poured this summer and steel will be up in the fall.  

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how do you plan to face it?  

Resiliency. The job of a trustee is to ensure our training, staffing and equipment to respond is adequate and remains within budget. About 60 per cent of our calls are rescue medical and/or assistance. Our firefighters are trained first responders Level III (highest level). Some also have Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) training. Firefighters are called out at the same time as BC Ambulance. With two BC Ambulances on island one may be doing a patient transfer and the other may be busy. Often it is a fully qualified firefighter who is there first. It was the fire department working with BC Hydro that cleared trees off roads in the windstorm of 2015. It was firefighters who helped with rehabbing of Fulford Ganges road during the atmospheric river. Firefighters are our emergency response.  

At the end of a future term as trustee, what accomplishment would you hope to look back upon as a success?  

Completing the Firehall is Job #1. Bringing it in on time and on budget. Having fully trained firefighters with the equipment to respond.  

Jenny McClean  

What do you bring to the table, and how has that motivated you to run for a trustee position?  

I am familiar with local politics, and I know a lot of people. I am interested in forest fire mitigation from an ecological lens. I am a good communicator and reach a lot of people in my daily travels. I hope to be able to use my communication skills to speak with people about the goals of the fire board and to bridge any communication gaps as things roll out for the new fire hall. I am interested in the Fire Smart program and other public service educational programs run by the fire department. I know the community of school aged parents well and would like to be a part of community outreach. I am a mother and I feel it is a good to have a mix of women and men serving on the fire board. It is also a good idea to have new people at the table.  

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how do you plan to face it?  

I think the biggest challenge facing the district is how to build a new fire hall that has the least impact on the neighbourhood in terms of noise and also drainage issues. To house a new fire hall is significant for the residential community and I see that to be well accepted it should have the most ability to merge with the surrounding area and also keeping with the residential character of the neighbourhood in a way that is acceptable to those living close by.  

At the end of a future term as trustee, what accomplishment would you hope to look back upon as a success?  

I would feel very successful to have been able to learn from the fire board in terms of how they serve the community of Salt Spring. There is a lot to learn and the fire board does a good job and I would like to learn from them.  

Dennis Lucarelli  

The candidate chose to respond to all questions with a single statement. 

For eight years I was Director for Transition Salt Spring, including three as Secretary and two as President. I also served two years as the founding Secretary for Stqeeye’ Learning Society. I’m running for Trustee as I value and respect our Fire/Rescue employees and volunteers for all that they have achieved.  

After earning my law degree (California Berkeley, 1977) I spent a decade abroad including five years in Tokyo, where I worked on maritime finance contacts, patent/trademark agreements, and real estate partnerships. In 1999 I earned my PMP certification (Project Management Professional) and taught workshops for the next 18 years, to project managers at an electric utility, various government offices (including one whose staff who referred to their workplace as “the Agency”), and at a micro-chip maker’s corporate campuses across North America, Europe, and Asia.    

If elected I will join the push for completing the new Fire Hall on-time and under budget, which I hope is a prelude to upgrading both the south end Fire/Rescue Training Facility (it needs earthquake-proofing and other upgrades) and the Central fire hall which, if north-islanders agree, could feasibly be moved further north, closer to more homes for faster emergency response.  

My primary aim would be that the Trustees, firefighters, emergency personnel and volunteers alike, will continue to enjoy the trust and respect that I share with so very many Islanders. If we’re also able to accomplish future safety and structural upgrades, so much the better. 


Bryce Chapman

What do you bring to the table, and how has that motivated you to run for a trustee position? 

I bring 45 years experience in large project management, infrastructure planning and rebuilds. Years of both board and management activities. I have worn both hats. I am hoping that my years of experience will be of use dealing with the water district’s many challenges, specifically, funding. 

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how do you plan to face it? 

Financing. The ability to manage the ever rising costs of aging infrastructure. This starts with open communication with all the stakeholders and by searching out creative solutions as North Salt Spring Water District is not the only district that has ever faced these problems. If someone has already invented a better wheel, let’s be humble enough to take their advice. 

What are the advantages/disadvantages of operating as an improvement district? 

Advantages – simplistic structure.  

Disadvantages – government funding support.  

Currently, we are very fortunate to have an impressive Board and the best management team I have ever seen since I moved to Salt Spring Island.  As a board member, our task is to give this team sound objectives, and the support to accomplish them. As a board member, we are tasked with listening to the needs of the stakeholders. I take that responsibility seriously and I would be honoured with your support.

David Courtney  

What do you bring to the table, and how has that motivated you to run for a trustee position?   

Throughout my career I’ve had the amazing opportunity to travel the globe and witness how other cultures solve their governance Issues. Since I’ve been semi-retired, I began to advocate for the last 28 months on behalf of 2200 Petitioners on “The Fix For Route 6” (Vesuvius to Crofton) and for 550 Petitioners on “The Fix for Fulford.” With the support of MLA Adam Olsen, I’ve engaged the B.C. Legislature in presenting our petition, engaged the CEO and the various VPs of BC Ferries, BC Ferries Commissioner, the Board of Directors, Mayor Rob Douglas of the Municipality of North Cowichan and finally Minister Fleming.   

I currently sit as a Fire Board Trustee at the SSIFD. I’ve advocated along with a number of other volunteers in reducing the speed limit through Ganges Village to 30 km in the name of public safety.   

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how do you plan to face it?   

The current NSSWD team has been diligently dealing with the 10-year water moratorium and the ongoing $40 million lawsuit over the last year for a positive way forward.   

Looking beyond this serious challenge is the pending costs for the mandated Lake Maxwell treatment plant upgrade and the ongoing upgrade of water pipes. I am concerned about the rising costs to the NSSWD Ratepayers.    

With the $10 million grant to raise the weir and other enhancements, in my opinion the government has opened the door for improvement districts to receive equal funding when it comes to the effects of climate change.   

What are the advantages/disadvantages of operating as an improvement district?   

There are advantages in having the community looking after its own affairs and the current NSSWD team over the past year have done that job very well.  

The disadvantage is the lack of funding for infrastructure projects. I will do my best to be a voice in advocating for more government funding for the NSSWD ratepayers. 

Brian Pyper (incumbent) 

What do you bring to the table, and how has that motivated you to run for a trustee position?   

First, as an environmental scientist for over 25 years, I want objective, defensible decision-making to guide NSSWD. Second, as a trustee and current chair, I strive for a respectful and collaborative board approach that is focussed on our mandate – to serve our ratepayers through the effective and efficient delivery of potable water. The better our board-staff relationships, the more likely we are to get important work done.    

What is the biggest challenge facing the district, and how do you plan to face it?   

I can’t pick just one. We’ve recently faced several challenges and each is most pressing at the time.  

First, recruiting and keeping excellent staff, which allows us to advance key initiatives (how: offer competitive salaries, a supportive workplace, and temporary housing). Second, building the provincially-mandated Maxwell Treatment Plant, which will require ratepayer support via a funding referendum (how: clear communication regarding the benefits for water quality and supply). And third, moving beyond our Moratorium policy toward a sustainable connection policy that is guided by transparent, science-based management of our limited water supply in the face of climate change, affordable housing concerns, and Channel Ridge litigation (how: integrating our supply and infrastructure studies, and working with other agencies and ratepayers to prioritize, where legally possible, any additional connection capacity).    

What are the advantages/disadvantages of operating as an improvement district?   

The main disadvantage: current provincial policy denies improvement districts access to infrastructure grants. Without incorporation on SSI, the only option for NSSWD to access grant funding is to convert to a CRD service, which means handing over roughly $90 million in assets and the elected autonomy of our ratepayers.  

While I appreciate many CRD services on SSI, their track record with respect to conversion of water districts has been discouraging overall. So, the advantages of maintaining NSSWD as an improvement district: keeping our elected autonomy as ratepayers, having local control over decision-making, and long-term (as evidence on SSI suggests), a more effective and affordable system.   

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