A sharing circle format, open communication and a willingness to listen characterized the Salt Spring Fire Protection District’s first community consultation session last Wednesday night.
The atmosphere was a marked change from the often acrimonious town hall sessions of board meetings over the past seven to eight years. Member of the public John Davies noted he had avoided fire board meetings in the past because he doesn’t like fights. He predicted the attendees of the Jan. 24 session would instead be passing on the positive experience to their friends in the community.
Board of trustees chair Per Svendsen, fire trustees and Salt Spring Fire Chief Arjuna George shared a number of potential good news points that hadn’t yet surfaced at the Jan. 15 board meeting and could lead to savings for homeowners. For one, the district may be able to hold off on a scheduled fire engine replacement for up to five years if an application to approve reliability via inspection reports is approved by the Fire Underwriters Survey.
A second point related to the FUS fire insurance rating for the island has to do with water supply, which was flagged as a major concern in the 2015 FUS report. Svendsen said the board has been looking at alternative water sources, including plans to build a one-million gallon holding pond behind the Fulford fire hall.
Recent tests on pumping sea water from the Centennial boat launch ramp in Ganges suggest there’s another viable source downtown.
“We’ve got an unlimited water source all around us,” Svendsen said.
“We hope to expand that to hopefully have that spot recognized as a water source for Salt Spring Island, so that’s our next step is to have it officially recognized,” George added.
For more on this story, see the Jan. 31, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.