Editorial: Vote on April 24


Wednesday, April 17 2019

The Fire Board’s decisions around how to hire a replacement Fire Chief have gotten Gabriolans talking.
The question now is who will take part in the voting.

Everyone’s great at giving their opinion.
Few, especially in the case of the Fire Board elections, are willing to put pen to paper.

For those new to Gabriola, or for those unaware of who runs the Fire Department on Gabriola, officially that would be the Gabriola Fire Protection Improvement District. They are a local government and taxation authority unto their own, governed by the Fire Board of Trustees, and legislated under the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Elections are staggered, with two or three Trustee positions voted on every April at the District’s Annual General Meeting.

The current Fire Board Trustees are (in alphabetical order by last name): Wilf Caron, Paul Champion, John Hudson, John Lewis, John Moeller, Mark Noyon, (Chair), and Sandra Rudischer.

The Fire Board is not beholden to the Regional District of Nanaimo or the Islands Trust.
It is however beholden to the property owners of Gabriola.

On April 24, two of the Trustees are standing for re-election. That meeting starts at 7pm at the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall #1. On Church Street. Voters must be property owners to vote. Renters (even long-term Gabriola residents) cannot.

While that meeting may be advertised, every year, as an Annual General Meeting, make no mistake, it’s a Local Government Election.

Gabriolans just had a local government election, this past fall, with a 44.7% voter turnout. 1,721 votes were cast. 

Even divided by four years (since Fire Trustees are elected every year), that would equate to 430 people voting each year.

With the exception of a few years, most Fire Board elections are tame and timid things, with members of the Fire Department and a few other ratepayers present to mark their votes. This year is not the year for tame and timid.

Discussions were moved in-camera, the public does not know the opinion of all the Trustees on the Board, and which way each Trustee believes the issue should be taken.

The hiring of staff in any local government is a legitimate item to be discussed behind closed doors.

As published in the April 10 Sounder, the Fire Chief has now given written notice that he will be leaving his position on October 1, 2019. 

While the reason given for this delay was so there is no transition of leadership during the fire season; it also means the Trustees could have a bit more time to consider their hiring process, and to conduct any intake of applications, short-listing, interviews, and other such requirements.

The entire Fire Board sits on the hiring sub-committee.

The Fire Chief does not.

If there is any ‘favoured’ candidate for the Fire Chief position, a Board which supports that candidate will hire that candidate. Regardless of whether the posting is internal, Gabriola-only, or totally open.

Having two trustees up for re-election means that if the two running are ones which either oppose or support an open job posting, there is an opportunity for both sides to swing the vote their way.

For those who think it is important to vote in an Islands Trust election - get out and vote on April 24.

For those who think it is important to vote in a Regional District of Nanaimo election - get out and vote.

For those who think it is important to be involved in voting for persons who have direct control over how our taxes are spent - get out and vote.

April 24. 7pm. Church Street. 

At the Albert Reed Memorial Fire Hall #1.