I thought this was a very informative article in the Vernon Morning Star by Richard Rolke. He tells me this is the first time the North Westside has reached Editorial Page status.
My response to Richard Rolke’s Vernon Morning Star editorial of Wednesday June 08 2016.
I do acknowledge that I probably earned the “colorful” remark in regards to my relationship with the Regional District but it is by reputation more than fact with the current administration, they were only present for a short duration of my 20+ years dealing with RDCO Management as North Westside fire chief. That being said the “new” management has extremely thin skin for bureaucrats compared to their predecessors. For the record I believe I did no more than any fire chief that cared would do to build and enhance community safety through the department they serve. Councils and Regional Board 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 the latter. Those same tax dollars spent elsewhere represent regional district jobs and projects that RDCO wants to spend on Regional Parks, Administrative Overhead, payroll, engineering projects, dog control, noxious weeds, and on and on this is a matter of priorities and our thoughts and 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 Groups’ library, 2 apparatus (1 new engine – 1 ancient oil patch 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 community construction of the Shorts Creek Hall, addition of the Snuffer Unit, Engine(s) Replacement Referendum, Water Tender replacement x2, Medical First Responder, new upgraded Turn-Out Gear, Auto Extrication, Slope Rescue, Structural Protection Sprinklers, responsible boundary extension, 2 engine replacement, Canada’s 1st Fireboat Rated as a Water Supply platform to meet Fire Underwriters Municipal water supply standard reducing insurance costs to hundreds of properties. Yes I made them mad. I was a pain in the ass … but I got what was needed and I did it while eliminating the department capital debt, no further debt incurred and never spending beyond the communities and/or departments safety needs or ability to pay.
Currently as the elected representative for Central Okanagan West I believed that restoring a voice for the community in their local service levels (planning, water, fire, solid waste and community parks) and their costs ensuring best bang for tax dollar collected was number the one priority. That’s what I heard from the residents in the 2014 election … they wanted back the voice they lost over the past years and value for the taxes they paid. 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 Policy and Direction as is my elected authority I have been frustrated by a Board that consistently interferes in affairs they do not participate in nor contribute too. Sure looks like Taxation without Representation to me.
The solution is simple. A Governance Study funded by the Provincial Government will provide options and models available to us as a community under existing legislation. There is an online petition as well as a hard copy circulating the North Westside in support of just such a study. More information is available at NWCA The Petition will be at the Canada Day Celebration in Westshore Park July 1 between noon and 4 PM.