Increasing firefighting capacity and water flow in the Ganges village area will continue to be a priority for the Salt Spring Fire Protection District this year, as the department explores saltwater drafting and infrastructure options.
The potential for collaborating with the Capital Regional District to install pumps and piping along the Ganges harbourwalk was discussed more fully at the board of trustees’ meeting on Monday, July 15. Board chair Ron Lindstrom had already sent a letter of invitation to CRD director Gary Holman to explore the idea, which was well received.
The board voted to support the CRD and local bodies that are attempting to complete the boardwalk project, and asked them to consider the district’s public safety needs in an eventual construction project. The board also voted to have their facilities and physical plant committee report on firefighting deficiencies in the village core along with potential solutions. Flow requirements were flagged as an issue in the most recent Fire Underwriters Survey assessment.
The board held back from cost-sharing on the $10,000 needed for harbourwalk concept drawings, as suggested by trustee Rollie Cook.
“If we invested $5,000, which is a nominal sum for us, we could assist the CRD in moving this forward. And it would grant our chief and our staff the right to review the preliminary drawings to ensure our needs are reflected,” Cook argued.
Holman, who was in attendance, reported the CRD was committed to providing the drawings anyway as part of a community right-of-way application for foreshore access that is now being considered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. The intention now is to include saltwater pumps and piping in the design concept.
Trustee Per Svendson expressed some reservations about the harbourwalk idea, including the fact the board as a whole did not discuss it before Lindstrom’s first letter to the CRD went out. Svendson further noted the pumps have 20-foot maximum draft, so the harbourwalk design would have to meet those specifications. He also questioned why the district would invest so much to satisfy FUS, since that organization has not been able to say how much local insurance rates might improve with better water resources.
Other board members observed that piggybacking onto the boardwalk is just one option for increasing water resources, and is by no means an assured solution — especially since the project might never be completed.
“I also agree a boardwalk would be awesome for the community,” said trustee Andreas Gideon. “But as we’ve discussed in committee with the chief, there are multiple other options on how potentially to do this, from water tanks to other avenues to meet that saltwater pumping from.”
Trustee Howard Holzapfel argued the district should investigate a saltwater pump with high capacity flow that BC Ferries installed at Long Harbour but apparently doesn’t use.
For more on from the Salt Spring Fire Protection District meeting, see the July 24, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.