Bahr and Giffin voted in as Fire Board Trustees

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, September 25 2019

Penelope Bahr and Paul Giffin have been voted in as the newest Trustees on the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District Board.

This was at an election held on on September 25 to re-do the April 24 election which was declared “of no effect” by the BC Supreme Court. 

179 ballots were cast.

Bahr received 106 votes while Giffin received 86 votes.

Chris Windass, the third candidate nominated, received 82 votes.

Returning Officer Al Tanner said on election night there had been no request for a recount from any of the candidates.

Fire Chief Rick Jackson writes the nominated candidates names down during the September 25 Special Meeting.
Derek Kilbourn photo.

Windass, a resident of Gabriola for the past nine years, became a Canadian Citizen in 2017 - having emigrated from Britain.

He was a school teacher for 35 years, and said he worked in various communities, serving on a number of organizations.

Windass said he was wanting to be voted in as Trustee because now that he’s retired, he feels he has the time to devote himself properly to the community.

“A number of my friends and acquaintances are first responders and firefighters.

“These people do commendable work.

“I want to support them in the work they do in the community.”

Paul Giffin - who had been one of the Trustees who won in the April 24 election - said he has lived on Gabriola for the past 20 years - and is retired from the RCMP, where he served for 41 years - part of that service was in a posting which included police services on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, including Gabriola.

He volunteers with the Gabriola Island Emergency Communications, which operates out of the lower level of Fire Hall #1.  

As part of this he serves with the Vancouver Island section of the Coast Emergency Communications Association and is the regional emergency radio representative for Emergency Management BC.

“This exposes me to emergency organizations involved from the Malahat to the top of Vancouver Island, the west coast of Vancouver Island, and the Powell River District.”

He said having been exposed to the Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department, “I would venture to say 95% of the people on Gabriola don’t have the idea that the work that the GVFD puts in.

“The time and effort they put in, and with everything that’s happened, when you pick up the phone, you know they are coming.

“I would like to help them provide some of the best services I’ve been exposed to on Vancouver Island.”

Penelope Bahr was the final candidate to speak.

Bahr said prior to Gabriola, she had been living overseas in Japan, working as the General Manager of a Theatre troupe; working as an assistant in an investment firm; and volunteering with the Parents Advisory Committee of her childrens’ school.

“This last bit is the most relevant to my pre-Gabriola experience.”

She said 65% of the community she was living in was single parents. 

For two years, she said, the PAC had to fight to keep their school open.

“We found a way - the school stayed open.”

She said when it came time to return to Canada, she asked her children where she should live.

“They said the gulf islands.

“How right they were.

“Stepping off that ferry, on to this land, I felt at home.”

She said being at home means earning it, and having responsibility.

“In 16 years here, I’ve worked many jobs, and volunteered with many organizations. This has given me a wonderful circle of friends and neighbours.

“I was lucky enough to build my own home -as a homeowner builder, I’ve worked on solutions with the Regional District of Nanaimo and studied the bylaws of the Islands Trust.”

Through her experience with the Trust, she volunteered with the Advisory Planning Commission.

Earlier this year, she was considering a second term on the APC, “when I attended the April [Fire District] Annual General Meeting.

“At the end of the evening - I was one of the many concerned with the structure and process of that meeting. I reassessed where I wanted to volunteer my time.

“I thought maybe I should some of my energies here. I researched the District governance. That information told me where to address my concerns - I wrote letters to the trustees and others. 

“It was suggested that perhaps the old ways needed an update.”

She said this renewed interest in the Fire District, and the dialogue, has resulted in progress towards solutions.

“So here we are - if elected - I wil address publishing more information, and providing easier access to that information.

“So those who are unable to attend have more information.”

She said she would also like to make it possible for everyone to cast their vote.

Currently, voting can only happen in person on the night of the election.

“I’d be honoured to serve as a Trustee if you the voters so decide...listening to all sides of an issue - evaluating as part of a team - and weighing options through respectful communication.”

The next planned election for Fire Board Trustees will be at the regular Annual General Meeting in April 2020.