Mt. Washington Fire Service Project

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Referendum

Fall 2017 Update:

Newsletter Update October 5, 2017 [PDF]

Mount Washington Fire Service Steering Group [PDF]
Notes of the meeting on August 25, 2017

Terms of Reference Mount Washington Fire Service Steering Group [PDF]

 

On September 17, 2016, the Comox Valley Regional District conducted a referendum for a Mount Washington resort community fire protection service. 

A draft service establishment bylaw and a draft loan authorization bylaw have been developed for the creation of a Mount Washington fire protection service. These bylaws will be on the agenda for the May 31 board meeting. With Board approval the proposal will go to a referendum on September 17 and the bylaws may be adopted at a future board meeting if assent by the electors is received. Advance voting will take place September 7. Mail-in voting will also be used.

With a successful referendum the loan authorization bylaw would authorize borrowing $415,000 to be repaid over 10 years for the creation of a fire protection facility and purchase of firefighting equipment. The CVRD will  provide all of the information required for property owners and residents of Mount Washington to make an informed choice whether to proceed with the project.

Property ownership and voter eligibility for this project is complex and it is incumbent on voters to learn whether they are eligible to vote or not. The CVRD will be communicating with residents and property owners to assist with this. They can vote as resident electors, or as non-resident property electors with fee simple ownership, or lease holders that are for 99 years or longer. Properties owned by a corporation are not eligible.

View more information about the referendum.

Update: March 10, 2016 Final Report

View the consultant’s final report [PDF - 435 KB] and the staff report [PDF - 1002 KB] regarding the possible creation of a Mount Washington fire protection service – the recommendations are consistent with the Mount Washington integrated resort community plan (IRCP).

Background: Following the commitment of feasibility funds and the establishment of a local steering group, the regional district engaged the services of a consultant team to review the current situation and provide a detailed analysis of fire protection service options available for the Mount Washington community.

Through research and interviews with key individuals and agencies, the consultant identified options and recommends the establishment of a fire service with the following features:

  • A defensive firefighting service provided by way of service agreement with a Comox Valley local government/fire department. 
  • Construction of a storage building/fire hall at Mount Washington, on land currently owned by the regional district for this purpose. 
  • The purchase of Mount Washington fire apparatus and equipment to be stored in the storage building/fire hall, and accessed by the contracted fire department.

Also identified in the report are estimated start-up costs and the estimated taxation impact on the residential properties of Mount Washington.

In the context of a diverse property ownership situation and an elector assent process, the complexities and challenges of qualifying and registering residents and owners for a referendum were also identified.

Check back to this website for updates as the process moves forward.

View FAQs [PDF - 330 KB].

Update December 11, 2015: For the latest information about the proposed Mt Washington fire service, please visit the Community Input page: community input.  For the latest project information, visit: next steps.

Introduction

The Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a 644 ha privately-owned tourism resort located within electoral area ‘C’ of the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD). The resort area is bounded by Strathcona Provincial Park to the south and on the remaining three sides by private managed forest lands. As a privately-owned resort, the majority of the land base is owned by the primary developer of the resort (the Mt. Washington ownership group).

Mount Washington has a very small permanent, year-round population, which increases significantly during the winter ski season (seasonal residents and visitors).

These unique circumstances have presented a resource challenge (funding and personnel) for the establishment of any fire protection service within the resort, and currently, no such service exists. In 2003, a formal feasibility study was completed and a petition conducted to determine public support for a fire protection service. The petition was not successful. In 2009, a major fire occurred prompting discussion and further study by the CVRD, but talks did not result in a fire service. Earlier this year (2015), another major incident occurred resulting in the loss of 3 chalets, once again bringing the issue to the forefront. 

CVRD staff has assembled a “steering group” that includes participation by the CVRD, Mount Washington ownership group, local strata representatives, residential property owners and other user groups to re-examine the opportunities for establishing a fire protection service. 

As part of that process, the CVRD has committed to engaging a consultant to undertake the following work:

  • a review/summary of the history and background information;
  • a detailed discussion and analysis of current service options;
  • consideration of the legislative rules and requirements pertaining to electoral assent;
  • preparation of a report including service recommendation(s) and an implementation plan;
  • consultation with the steering group and broader Mount Washington community engagement on the service options and report recommendations; and,
  • summary presentation to the Electoral Area Services Committee.

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