View Royal fire hall the right decision for town

It is time to make this much needed investment in our fire department and our community.

I write in response to the letter of Aug. 1, “Property tax rates in View Royal leave little room for fire hall”. In the 10 years that I have been on council, View Royal has consistently maintained the third or fourth lowest residential tax rate in the Capital Regional District.

Ms. Saladana states in her letter that the mill rate goes up every year. This is simply not the case. The mill rate has, in fact, gone from 3.11 in 2002 to 2.35 in 2012. As a council we have worked hard to keep our tax rates comparatively low while also recognizing the importance of investing in our community.

The writer goes on to make a rather reckless suggestion that View Royal residents would be better served if the town was to abrogate its responsibility to provide fire protection and allow our town to be served by a substation of Colwood’s fire department. She asks that a detailed study be conducted on this idea. Frankly, I don’t need a detailed study to know that this is not a good course of action.

View Royal is served by an exceptional and dedicated largely volunteer fire department. In recent history this department has saved a national historic site (Craigflower Manor) and a local institution (the Four Mile pub) from almost certain destruction if not for less than five minute response times in each case. Due to the firefighters expertise and quick response damage in each case was minimal.

On top of this they respond to hundreds of other calls through our Town, including medical aid calls and motor vehicle accidents on our busy roads. They contribute to our community in a way that is immeasurable in terms of dollars and cents and they are also responsible for fire protection on the Esquimalt and Songhees First Nations lands.

We have an automatic aid agreement already with Colwood and our Emergency Services personnel are fully integrated. View Royal residents have this exceptional level of service at an extremely reasonable cost.

Last year, View Royal’s total firefighting bill was just over $1 million. Neighbouring Esquimalt’s was $3.6 million and neighbouring Colwood’s was $1.8 million. The suggestion that we should consider offering View Royal a lesser degree of service in return for some fictional savings is, frankly, just illogical. Fire protection is a life and safety issue and a responsibility that must be taken extremely seriously.

I would also like to touch on Ms. Saladana’s claim that existing residents will bear the full cost of the new building and other impending projects. There is a major new development proposal in process for North View Royal. This project has committed a $1 million cash contribution to the fire hall and on build out will generate some $500,000 in municipal tax revenue.

Regardless of what may happen down the road in terms of fire service, View Royal will always need a building within its boundaries to meet acceptable response times. The current building has served us well but is now antiquated and insufficient for a modern day fire department. Interest rates are at record lows and the construction costs are lower now than they were five years ago.

It is time to make this much needed investment in our fire department and our community.

Coun. David Screech

View Royal

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP seizes Camp Namegans’ U-Haul truck

Lock and gate damaged at Thetis Lake Campground in View Royal

Multiple earthquakes off Vancouver Island recorded around the world

Five earthquakes overnight on Oct. 21 were measured as ‘strong’

See your great fog images from across Greater Victoria

It was a foggy day today and your cameras captured some beautiful images

MISSING: 40-year old Kasung Shillingford

VicPD are trying to find Shillingford who was last seen on Aug. 18

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

New monitoring of vessel noise impact on endangered whales announced

Federal government to monitor underwater ship and mammal noise in B.C.’s Salish Sea

Used election signs could serve as emergency shelters, B.C. candidate says

Langley Township council hopeful wants to build one-person foul weather shelters for homeless

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

UPDATE: American rapper killed in skydiving accident

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Mother passes school trustee torch to daughter in Port Alberni

Jane Jones loses after one term, but proud of her daughter Connie Watts

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Most Read