In response to Richard Rolke’s Beyond the Headlines column in The Morning Star. I do acknowledge that I rightfully earned the “colourful” remark in regards to my relationship with the Regional District but it is by reputation more than fact.
The current administration has only been present for a very short duration of my time dealing with RDCO. That being said the “new” management has extremely thin skin for bureaucrats.
For the record I believe I did no more than any fire chief would do to build and enhance community safety through the department they serve. Councils and regional boards do not offer funding because it’s the right thing to do; they give it up when presented with a strong financial case and perseverance, mainly perseverance. Those same tax dollars spent on a local fire department represent regional district jobs and projects that RDCO wants to spend on regional parks, administrative overhead, engineering projects, dog control, noxious weeds and on and on that build their staff and empire. This is a matter of priorities and our thoughts/concerns should matter here, not just our wallets.
When I joined North Westside Fire in the early 1990’s they had one two-bay hall, shared office space with the seniors group and their library, two apparatus (one “new” heavily financed engine – one ancient oil patch water tanker), no training facilities or programs, old used turnout gear and equipment and a $135,000 debt.
I did not believe this most essential community service was getting its deserved share and I was determined to change that.
The acquisition of the Shorts Creek Hall, light attack snuffer unit, Engine(s) Replacement Referendum, introduction of the Medical First Responder Program, auto extrication, slope rescue, structural protection sprinklers, responsible boundary extension, Canada’s first fireboat rated as a water supply platform to meet fire underwriters municipal water supply standard reducing insurance costs to hundreds of properties – are all projects that I fought for and acquired in my tenure as fire chief.
Yes I made them mad and yes I was a pain in the ass … but I got what was needed and I did it while eliminating the fire department capital debt and never spent beyond the communities and/or department’s safety needs or ability to pay.
Currently as the elected representative for Central Okanagan West I believe that restoring a voice for the community in their local service levels (planning, water, fire, solid waste and community parks) and their costs is essential; ensuring the best bang for tax dollars collected is my No. 1 priority. That’s what I heard from the residents in the 2014 election, they want the voice they lost over the past years and value for the taxes they pay.
Taxation without representation is the heart of the problem and as an electoral area the RDCO board is both the problem and source of any possible solution. In my attempts to provide governance through policy and direction as is my elected authority and right, I have instead been rebuffed and outvoted on very occasion by RDCO board representatives that do not contribute or participate in the services and functions in question. That is not democracy by anyone’s standards.
Just as when I was fire chief my goal as regional director is to fight to get as much of our tax requisition dollars as possible to actually be spent on behalf of and to benefit those that pay the tax bill. A governance study is imperative to determine a better future for our residents and the delivery of their local government and services. This effort will help to put us on a path for “a more constructive relationship” between RDCO, myself and the residents I represent.
Wayne Carson, Regional Director,
Central Okanagan West