Editorial: Team players needed for fire board

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While our focus in the past month has been on elections first in B.C. and then in the United States, Salt Spring Islanders will soon hopefully be voting for candidates closer to home.

We say “hopefully” because four seats need to be filled on the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District Board in a mail-in voting process that concludes on Dec. 14, and at least five qualified candidates need to put their names forward in order to precipitate an election.

For a variety of reasons, the board that oversees running of the district has for many years suffered from incalculable challenges. Intransigence seems to create an atmosphere that makes it hard to move anything forward, such as a long-awaited new Ganges fire hall. At present, the district has neither a fire chief, with Arjuna George on medical leave, nor a deputy chief, a position the board has chosen not to fill since 2015 when George was promoted from deputy to acting chief and then full chief.

Since 2013, 23 different people have served as SSIFPD trustees on a seven-trustee board and 10 of those have resigned before their terms were completed. Most recently the district lost two highly qualified individuals — board chair Ron Lindstrom and Jo MacDonald — who felt they had no choice but to resign from the board due to some of their peers’ actions.

It’s time to stop this pattern of dysfunction with our fire board. Salt Spring needs and deserves to have solid governance when it comes to something as important as its fire protection and rescue service. The board must be comprised of seven community-minded individuals with strong communication skills who can respect the experience and views of others and learn from the mistakes of the past.

This Friday, Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. is the deadline to submit nomination papers for a trustee position. Forms and information are available from the Ganges fire hall or from election returning officer Tony Kennedy at 250-537-8815.

Running for a fire trustee position is a great way for educated and qualified residents to give back to this community and get things moving in a positive and timely manner.

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